Carotid artery symptoms explains why carotid artery disease occurs. A family member has carotid artery disease. Recently he had to have two operations, one on each side of his neck. The operations had to be done a few months apart, with the worst affected artery being done first.
What is Carotid Artery Disease (CAD)
Sometimes called carotid artery stenosis, which means a narrowing of the carotid arteries, this disease can be quite incidious, creeping up on the unsuspecting patient until something serious happens. You are at serious risk of stroke if you have this disease, the thing is, it’s completely avoidable if you are aware of what causes it.
These carotid arteries are just like others, including the ones which supply blood to the heart, known as the coronary arteries. Although we are more aware of blockages that can affect our heart or the vessels and arteries to and from the heart, blocked or narrowed carotid arteries can cause just as much damage, but this time to the brain.
Where are they
The carotid arteries are situated either side of the neck. They are two large blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the brain. Any obstruction which stems the flow of blood through these arteries can compromise the function of the frontal lobes. This part of the brain controls your personality, sensory and motor functions as well as thinking and speech. Some doctors will check your heartrate by gently pressing his fingers on the side of your neck to feel the pulse from your carotid artery.
The term atherosclerosis means hardening of the arteries and applies to any artery or blood vessel that is stricken with a buildup of fatty substances. This decreases blood flow to the brain, heart or any other part of the body. Someone with carotid artery disease will already have atherosclerosis and therefore must be aware of the possibility of the coronary arteries also being compromised.
Either of these can cause a stroke:
- An artery becomes very narrowed or blocked
- Part of the plaque in the artery breaks off and travels to smaller vessels and blocks it
- A rupture happens in the artery to the brain
- A blood clot forms and obstructs a blood vessel
When the blood is cut off or impaired and doesn’t reach the brain it can cause a stroke. If the blood flow to the brain ceases for a long period of time ie. many hours, then the damage caused is likely to be permanent. The quicker a stroke victim can be treated, the better the chances of a full recovery.
It’s a good idea to remember the word FAST which will help you recognise someone who is having a stroke. F = Is the victim’s Face dropped on one side. A = Can the victim lift their Arms. S = is the victim’s Speech slurred. T = if the victims exhibits all three then it’s Time to call for an ambulance. Your quick recognition of a stroke victim could save their life and give them the best chance of a full recovery.
What causes this disease
Put simply, you get this disease because of your lifestyle. The following are precursors:
- High blood pressure.
- Low HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.
- Being overweight or obese.
- High triglycerides.**
- Being inactive.
- Smoking, excessive alcohol, junk food, sodas.
- A magnesium deficiency.
- Metabolic syndrome X.*
*There are five recognised conditions with metabolic syndrome X:
a) abdominal obesity.
b) high triglycerides.**
c) low HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.
d) high blood pressure.
e) high blood sugar (diabesity)***
As you can see, these symptoms are in the list for carotid artery disease. You are considered to have syndrome X, if you have at least three of these risk factors.
** Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. According to the Mayo clinic: “A simple blood test can reveal whether your triglycerides fall into a healthy range. Normal — Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) Borderline high — 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L) High — 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)”
***According to Medline “If you had a fasting blood glucose test: A level of 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) means you have impaired fasting glucose, a type of prediabetes. This increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A level of 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) and higher usually means you have diabetes.”
Dr Larry Resnick
According to Dr Resnick of Cornell University, metabolic syndrome X is caused by low levels of magnesium ions.¹ Therefore, insufficient magnesium causes the five recognised conditions that make up metabolic syndrome X and insufficient magnesium is linked to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.²
“Without enough magnesium, cells simply don’t work.” – Dr Lawrence Resnick, MD, Cornell University
Symptoms of carotid artery disease
Early carotid artery disease rarely causes symptoms. Once the arteries are around 80% blocked, you may start having an effect known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA/mini stroke) which is a temporary blockage of blood which doesn’t cause permanent damage. Ignoring these attacks is not sensible as a TIA may herald a forthcoming serious stroke. Signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Weakness/numbness on one side of the body affecting the face, arms and legs.
- One side of the face drooped.
- Garbled speech.
- Vision impairment in one or both eyes.
- Severe and sudden headache
What else is going on?
The problem with CAD is that if you have blocked carotid arteries, there’s a good chance that you have atherosclerosis in other arteries of your body. So the risks for carotid artery disease are the same as the risk for coronary heart disease and also peripheral artery disease.
What does plaque consist of?
Plaque is not just cholesterol, there are other fatty substances, cellular waste, calcium and fibrin, a clotting agent.
According to Dr Carolyn Dean “Calcium can precipitate out of the blood and deposit in the lining of the arteries, causing hardening of the arteries (arterioslcerosis). It can coat and stiffen cholesterol deposits or plaque in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis. This, in turn, can cause blood pressure to rise as well as increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Calcium can even deposit in the brain. Many researchers are investigating it as a possible cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.”³
So what’s the link?
The link is the balance between the two vital minerals of Mg and Ca. If Ca is allowed to run amok in the soft tissues and organs of the body, it will cause calcifications in places you’ve never even thought of. Ca without Mg is dangerous. If the balance is in equalibrium, these two minerals will do their job. If Mg is depleted and Ca takes control, which is the more likely scenario with our modern diet, you will be unwell. Mg keeps Ca dissolved in the blood. If you take a good quality Mg supplement and add vitamin K2 (menaquinone7) this combination will actually usher Ca out of soft tissue and back to the bones where it belongs, so stiffness and calcification of the arteries and other parts of the body can be reduced.
Now you know, do something about it!
If you’ve read all of this article, you know what causes the most serious diseases to man and you know the simple solution to make sure you and your family do not slowly and incidiously succumb to one or more of these life threatening illnesses. A cheap and vital mineral known as Mg will protect you from carotid artery disease as well as coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, stroke and many other conditions. Without adequate Mg to balance Ca, you WILL get sick as you age, you will shorten your life and the life you have will be undermined.
As we age
As we age, we start to slow down, we can’t walk as fast as we used to. We become stiffer and often need a walking aid like a cane to help us. Often our minds start to get slow and less sharp. Have you ever wondered why? Yes, old age will get us in the end but if you do give your body the nutrients it needs, you can stay sharp and supple throughout your golden years too.
Remember this, Mg is the relaxing and calming mineral, Ca is the mineral of tension and stiffness. As we age our Mg levels drop and our Ca levels increase. It comes to a time when Ca takes over the body and all our cells slowly die. What kills them? Calcium. Did you know that it’s Ca that starts the process of rigor mortis!
- Ionic basis of hypertension, insulin resistance, vascular disease, and related disorders. The mechanism of “syndrome X”. Resnick LM
Am J Hypertens. 1993 Apr;6(4):123S-134S.
- Low magnesium and atherosclerosis: an evidence-based link. Maier JA
- Page 31 “The Magnesium Miracle” by Dr Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.