Some Plaque Can't Be Cured by Brushing

The clogging of cartoid arteries can lead to stroke.

The clogging of cartoid arteries can lead to stroke.

Dixon Santana, M.D., Texas Tech Physicians — Surgery, said smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes contribute to cartoid artery disease. The carotid artery is one of two vessels in the neck below the jaw and provide the main blood supply to the brain.

Carotid artery disease is a condition in which these arteries become narrowed or blocked, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. When the arteries become narrowed, the condition is called carotid stenosis.

“Plaque is built up of cholesterol and all the fatty contents in our blood,” Santana said. “The artery splits in two and where the division is, you can have small tears in the inner lining of the artery that will develop plaque inside the opening of the artery.”

This has the effect of limiting the flow to the brain and if it becomes critical, a person could form clots around the plaque or have plaque break off into pieces.

Once you have a clot or plaque that has caused a stroke, one of the first things physicians do is evaluate the plaque and determine how bad the narrowing is. Sanatana said there are two treatments.

“The oldest technique is a surgery where you go in and stop the flow momentarily through the artery and literally scrape off the plaque on the artery,” Santana said. “Once you have done that you go on to close it up and re-establish the flow to the brain.”

The other treatment includes placing a stent crossed with a wire and a balloon to open the plaque, Santana said. A stent is then placed to push away the plaque, making room for flow to the brain.

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