The arteries in neck that supply blood to the brain are called carotid arteries. Carotid arteries are located in the anterior of the neck, on either side. Just like other arteries in the body, neck arteries are also susceptible to blockages. However, neck arteries can work just as fine, even though they are partially blocked. As a result, you may not experience any symptoms or signs of carotid artery stenosis. The symptoms surface only when the blockage is severe, and the artery functions only through a small opening. Let us look at the symptoms of blocked neck arteries in such a situation.
Symptoms of Partially Blocked Arteries
As mentioned above, there is a complete lack of symptoms when the plaque in arteries just begins to build up. The partial blockage of arteries, produces minor symptoms, which you may or may not notice. This is the reason why carotid artery disease is termed as a 'silent killer'. Most people who have this disease, may not experience the symptoms until the blockage reaches a dangerous level. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is the first sign of carotid artery blockage. The Transient Ischemic Attack symptoms occur when the blockage is dangerously close to complete closing of the artery. Typical TIA symptoms include, weakness and tingling in one side of the body. In addition, you may lose vision in one eye, or have slurred speech.
These mini stroke symptoms are a result of your brain not being supplied with a sufficient amount of blood. TIA symptoms can last anywhere between a few seconds to hours. Often, the symptoms are not severe enough to alarm you to a physician's opinion. However, if you have the slightest doubt that your symptoms could be of TIA, do not hesitate to consult a medical practitioner right away. Timely intervention by a medical practitioner may help to avoid fatal complications due to complete blockage. People with a history of heart diseases, like, arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, etc., should be on the look out for symptoms of blocked neck arteries.
Symptoms of Severely Blocked Arteries
If the TIA goes undetected, then you are at the risk of having a stroke, caused due to complete blockage of carotid artery. The complete or severe blockage of artery obstructs or completely cuts off the flow of blood to the brain. If there is no blood supply to the brain for more than a few minutes, the cells there start dying. The death of brain cells may cause irreversible brain damage of some sort. If the brain is deprived of blood for longer than a few minutes, then there is a possibility of death. The peculiar stroke symptoms due to carotid artery blockage, include, inability to lift one side of the body, inability to speak, no control, or weakness in facial muscles, dizziness, severe headaches etc.
If you are in a habit of regular checkups, your physician may be able to detect it at an early stage. A simple stethoscope can pick up any unusual sounds from the artery. The sound of blood flow through a blocked carotid artery is different from the one through a normal artery. An ultrasound can then be performed to check the extent of blockage. An arteriogram is another effective diagnostic tool, in which, a dye is injected in the artery and X-rays are taken to trace the position of the blockage. Suitable treatment options can be recommended by studying the extent of blockage, and nature of the symptoms, if any.
Thus, blocked arteries in neck can prove to be fatal, if not detected on time. People who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol levels and heart diseases, should make it a point to get themselves routinely examined. In fact, anyone who is over 40 years of age should get an annual physical health examination done.