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What is Carotid Artery Disease?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a stroke?

A. Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped, causing brain cells to die.

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Q. How can I reduce my risk for stroke?

A. You can help reduce your risk for stroke by:

  • Eating a healthy diet 
  • Staying active    
  • Not smoking    
  • Controlling high blood pressure    
  • Controlling high cholesterol    
  • Controlling diabetes
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Q. Are women at greater risk for stroke than men?

A. Stroke is often seen as a man’s problem. But in fact, it is a major concern for women. Twice as many women die from stroke than breast cancer every year.

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Q. Do the screenings given by Life Line Screening detect all causes of stroke?

A. No. We screen for some leading causes of stroke, including carotid artery disease and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). We also screen for common stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood sugar.

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Q. Should patients who have had a stroke or heart attack have the carotid artery screening?

A. Yes, but they may want to check with their doctor first, as insurance may cover the cost of their diagnostic studies.

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Q. Can I get rid of plaque?

A. Lifestyle changes and medical management are effective at slowing the progression of atherosclerotic disease and helping to avoid stroke, but the main option for removal of atherosclerotic plaque build-up is surgery. However, you would not be a candidate for this procedure unless your doctor deemed the disease advanced enough.

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Q. If I have an abnormal result for the carotid artery screening, does this mean I will need surgery?

A. No. Abnormal findings for this study means that a problem exists, which your GP needs to know about in order to conduct further diagnostic testing. You may need medication or lifestyle changes, as well as yearly follow-ups. If the disease is advanced enough, your GP may refer you to a vascular surgeon.

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Q. Why should I be screened for atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) in addition to carotid artery disease?

A. Atrial fibrillation and carotid artery blockage are both significant risk factors for stroke. Having both screenings will provide a more complete stroke risk assessment.

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