When we think about our heart's health, we don't always think about the circulation system which delivers blood flow and essential nutrients to every part of your body. Protecting the arteries that blood flows through each day is a critical part of heart health. Carotid artery disease is caused by plaque building up in the carotid arteries and you can prevent this condition by making smart choices to reduce your risk.
What are carotid arteries?
There is a carotid artery located on each side of your neck. Each divides into internal and external arteries. The internal arteries bring blood rich in oxygen to your brain. The rest of your head (face, scalp, neck) is supplied by the external artery. The carotid arteries are essential because your brain needs oxygen to function. If the flow of blood to the brain is stopped for more than a few minutes, stroke and long lasting brain damage can occur. Take control of your health and prevent carotid artery disease.
Risk Factors for Carotid Artery Disease
The following factors may increase an individual's chance of having carotid artery disease:
- High blood cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance or diabetes
- Obesity or are overweight
- Metabolic syndrome
- Advanced age
- Family history
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical activity
In order to protect this critical part of the circulatory system, the following steps can be followed to reduce the risk of carotid artery disease:
- Know your family history so you can make lifestyles changes right away.
- Eat a healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, and limited sodium and sugar.
- Work with your doctor to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can lead to blocked arteries.
- Participate in daily physical activity. Getting at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise leads to better health.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking tightens blood vessels.
- Drink alcohol in moderation (one drink per day for women and two for men).
- Monitor and control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Consult with your doctor regularly to monitor your conditions.
- Take prescribed medication to help control your risk: anti-clotting medications or clot-dissolving medicine may be used to prevent a stroke or heart attack.
- Aspirin therapy may be able to prevent blood clots that lead to stroke.
Medical Center Arlington is committed to providing top of the line care to our cardiac patients. Learn more about our Heart and Vascular Center and the services we offer here. For a physician referral to assess and treat your circulatory health, please call 1-855-868-6262.