Where’s My Carotid Artery and What Does it Do?

Apr 15, 2024
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Carotid artery disease is a prevalent problem – but do you know anything about the carotid arteries themselves? Please keep reading to learn about your carotid arteries and their bodily function.

The carotid arteries are essential vessels in the body that feed the brain with oxygenated blood. You have two arteries on either side of your neck, vital to your well-being.

Carotid artery disease happens when dangerous plaque accumulates in the arteries, causing less blood flow to the brain. A stroke is a real possibility when you have carotid artery disease, so knowing how to keep your arteries clear is vital.

Our Heart Clinic of Hammond team takes your vein and artery health seriously. Dr. Giath Mikdadi and Dr. Farid Zayed are experienced cardiologists who enable you to stay ahead of your carotid artery health through cutting-edge carotid ultrasounds and coronary intervention procedures.

Where are the carotid arteries?

The body requires both veins and arteries to function correctly. The arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other body areas, including the brain. Veins are essential for carrying deoxygenated blood back to the heart.

Two of the most essential arteries in the body are the carotids. One carotid artery on either side of the neck provides oxygenated blood to the face, neck, and brain. These are known as the left and right common carotids.

Each carotid artery begins in the chest and goes up into the skull. In the neck, each carotid artery divides again into the internal carotid and external carotid arteries. The internal and external carotid then break into smaller arterial branches, which supply blood throughout the neck and skull.

The primary function of the carotids

Supplying oxygenated blood is the primary function of the carotid arteries. The left artery directly attaches to the aorta, taking deoxygenated blood from the heart and delivering it to the brain.

The right carotid artery connects to the brachiocephalic artery. Without the carotid arteries, the head, neck, and brain wouldn't get the oxygen they need to thrive and survive.

Issues with the carotid arteries

When the carotid arteries work, your body gets the oxygen-rich blood it requires. However, over time, the arteries are at risk for plaque buildup from an unhealthy diet, genetics, and a lack of physical activity.

Carotid artery disease is a prevalent problem with the carotid arteries. It happens when the arteries become narrow, known as carotid stenosis. Atherosclerosis is the main culprit behind carotid artery narrowing.

The most significant risk with carotid artery disease is a stroke. Atherosclerosis causes dangerous plaque to build up in the arteries, which attracts blood clots. If the clots break off, they can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

Other conditions also affect the carotid arteries. A weakened wall in one of the carotid arteries can lead to an aneurysm. If the aneurysm becomes too big, it can burst and cause life-threatening problems.

A carotid artery dissection is another life-threatening problem that occurs when the lining inside the artery tears, causing slowed blood flow to the brain. The result is often a stroke with serious complications.

The good news is that you can stay ahead of carotid artery problems through a healthy lifestyle. However, if you're at risk for carotid artery disease, our team offers carotid artery ultrasounds to evaluate the blood flow in the arteries.

Dr. Mikdadi and Dr. Zayed then evaluate the results to determine the next steps in preventing stroke-related issues.

If you're living with carotid artery disease, call the Heart Clinic of Hammond today to schedule a consultation with our team or request an appointment online.