Carotid Arteries & Stroke

Stroke, sometimes referred to as a "cardiovascular accident" (CVA) is a disruption in the supply or characteristic of blood flow to the brain.  There can be mutiple methods and ways for a CVA to occur, but we will highlight the CENTER FOUR:

  1. Carotid occlusive disease: Stroke occurring because of substantial narrowing of the COMMON or INTERNAL carotid artery to such an extent that blood flow is disrupted or suddenly completely closes.  Blood flow to the brain remains constant, and the danger of significant narrowing is not that the blood is not getting to the brain.  Rather, the danger is the blood flow is disturbed to such an extent that severe turbulence destroys and degrades the flow pattern, thus leading to transitory (TIA) or dislodging of debris componets that flow up to the brain, lodge in an artery, and cause death to the part of the brain served by that artery.
  2. Structural heart disease.  If there is significant heart valve disease such as aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis, or severe aortic or mitral regurgitation (back flow of blood), these conditions can disrupt and destroy blood cells or cause clumping of blood flow from the heart to the brain.  
  3. Congenital heart disease.  All normally developed babies have a communication called a patent foramen ovale (PFO) between the upper chambers of the heart.  This allows mixing of oxygenated blood from the Mother while the baby is in utero.  After birth, this communication should close fairly quickly.  If it does not, the potential exist for blood to cross from the right atrium into the left atrium, thus to the left ventricle, then up to the brain.  This can cause disruption in the architecture of the blood cells and disruption of normal flow patterns to the brain.  A stroke can occur.  A cardiac ultrasound with a brain ultrasound are the the tests of choice to determine if such a communication exists.  A saline contrast study is ordered.
  4. An aneurysm within the brain.  There are miles of arteries in the brain.  If even a tiny segment of a single artery is abnormally large or abnormally weak or BOTH, the artery can break.  This disruption and sudden stopping of blood flow to the part of the brain served by that artery is a CVA (stroke).


RISK FACTORS for development of vascular disease include: Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, SMOKING, stress, and genetics.  Vascular disease is also the direct result of inflammatory conditions affecting the arteries in the body.  There is a DIRECT CORRELATION between arterial wall thickness and blockage in the carotid arteries and CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE (CAD).  Vital Health Scores staff are experts in the central diagnostic technique to discover if YOU are at risk.


Mark Zemanek Technical Director, Vital Health Scores

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