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Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease:
Carotid Artery Disease Screening

There are various symptoms of carotid artery disease that all individuals should learn in order to prevent future problems. Emory Decatur Hospital and Emory Hillandale Hospital provide extensive carotid artery disease screening to diagnose carotid artery disease, stroke or atrial fibrillation. Visit our Atlanta-based Heart and Vascular Institute to learn more about our vascular screening services.

The carotid arteries are located on either side of your neck and carry blood to your brain. The common carotid artery divides into the internal and external carotid arteries in the middle of the neck. The external carotid artery delivers blood to the face and scalp, while the internal carotid artery delivers blood flow to the brain. Symptoms of carotid artery disease include developing atherosclerotic plaque (a sticky substance that can build up on artery walls) on the area in which the internal and external carotid artery divides. This plaque narrows the artery and can either completely obstruct flow to the brain or a piece of the plaque can break free and travel to the brain, causing a stroke. You are at higher risk of experiencing a stroke if the plaque severely narrows the flow of blood to the brain.

Our carotid artery disease screening will diagnose the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque, allowing us to identify if you are at risk for carotid artery disease.

Carotid Artery Disease Screening: Signs and Symptoms

During our carotid artery disease screening process, we can help you identify if you have any signs or symptoms of carotid artery disease. There are various symptoms that an individual may experience from carotid artery narrowing, also known as stenosis. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Numbness/weakness or loss of coordination of an arm and/or leg on one side of the body
  2. Drooping on one side of the face or mouth
  3. Change or loss of vision in one eye

  4. Thick, garbled speech or the inability to speak or understand speech
  5. Episodes of memory loss
  6. Loss of consciousness
  7. Abnormal sound in the carotid artery

Our Screening Services

A stroke results from the disruption of adequate blood flow to the brain. The carotid arteries are the main blood suppliers to the brain. Dangerous plaque build-up in these arteries can cause carotid artery disease, the leading cause of stroke. We provide carotid artery disease screening that is simple, painless and non-invasive.

What Can I Learn From This Test?

A carotid artery screening is performed with Doppler color flow ultrasound technology to create images of the carotid arteries and measure blood flow through these vessels. We will identify symptoms of carotid artery disease that you may be experiencing, including the amount of plaque build-up and the speed of blood flow. We report on plaque build-up and blood flow speed as one of the following:

  • Within normal range
  • Mild/moderate risk
  • Moderate risk
  • Findings of possible significance

How Is the Test Performed?

During our carotid artery disease screening, you will be asked to lie on your back on an exam table. After applying gel to your neck, our technologist will move an instrument called a transducer on your neck to create images of the carotid arteries and assess the rate of blood flow within them. From there, we will help you identify if you are experiencing any symptoms of carotid artery disease by analyzing your carotid arteries and blood flow.

Who Should Have the Test?

Anyone over 50 years of age or over 40 years of age, with risk factors for stroke, carotid artery disease or atrial fibrillation (also known as irregular heartbeat) should have carotid artery disease screening.

How Often Should I Get Screened?

This is a personal decision, based on your risk factors for vascular disease and previous screening results. Many individuals have an annual carotid artery disease screening as part of their regular healthcare regimen. It is especially important to be screened if you are experiencing any symptoms of carotid artery disease, or if you have experienced other signs of vascular disease.

How Do I Prepare for the Test?

  • Wear a shirt that is open at the collar and short-sleeved.
  • Do not wear a turtleneck.

About Your Results

Your carotid artery disease screening will be reviewed by one of our board-certified physicians and discussed with you the same day of your screening. Your primary care physician will receive a detailed report of your results in the mail.

Contact us at 404.501.1851 to learn more about symptoms of carotid artery disease or to learn more about our Vascular Services.

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