Carotid artery disease - self-care
Making certain changes to your diet and exercise habits can help treat carotid artery disease. These healthy changes can also help you maintain a healthy weight and manage high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Be more active.
Stop smoking, if you smoke. Quitting reduces your risk of stroke. Talk with your provider about quit-smoking programs.
If lifestyle changes do not lower your cholesterol and blood pressure enough, medicines may be prescribed.
These medicines can have side effects. If you notice side effects, be sure to tell your doctor. Your doctor may change the dose or type of medicine you take to help reduce side effects. Never stop taking medicines or take less medicine without talking to your provider first.
Your provider will want to monitor you and see how well your treatment is working. At these visits, your provider may:
You may also have imaging tests done to see if the blockages in your carotid arteries are becoming worse.
Having carotid artery disease puts you at risk for stroke. If you think you have symptoms of stroke, go to the emergency room or call your local emergency number (such as 9-1-1) immediately. Symptoms of a stroke include:
Get help as soon as symptoms occur. The sooner you receive treatment, the better your chance for recovery. With a stroke, every second of delay can result in more brain injury.
Brott TG, Halperin JL, Abbara S, et al. American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, et al. 2011 ASA/ACCF/AHA/AANN/AANS/ACR/ASNR/CNS/SAIP/SCAI/SIR/SNIS/SVM/SVS guideline on the management of patients with extracranial carotid and vertebral artery disease: executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, and the American Stroke Association, American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American College of Radiology, American Society of Neuroradiology, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Society of Atherosclerosis Imaging and Prevention, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, Society of Interventional Radiology, Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery, Society for Vascular Medicine, and Society for Vascular Surgery. Vasc Med. 2011;16:35-77. PMID: 21471149
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Rocotta JJ, Ricotta JJ. Carotid artery disease: Decision making including medical therapy. In: Cronenwett JL, Johnston W, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 99.
Last reviewed on: 2/24/2016
Reviewed by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.