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article imageArtery problems are the cause of most stokes: Study

By Tim Sandle     May 6, 2017 in Health
“Don’t blame the brain” is the message from the U.S. based Society for Vascular Surgery. To mark May 2017 being Stroke Awareness Month, the research group is discussing the causes of ischemic strokes.
The misunderstanding about strokes, according to Dr. Mohammad Eslami of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is because strokes occur in the brain. This might then appear to be the place where strokes originate. However, the majority are due to complications arising from a hardening of the arteries (the disease atherosclerosis).
Atherosclerosis is refers to the condition when an artery wall thickens as a result of invasion and accumulation of white blood cells (foam cells) and proliferation of intimal-smooth-muscle cell, which leads to the creation of a “fibrofatty” plaque. As a result of the accumulation of fatty material building up in the lining of the artery, the arteries narrow. When insufficient blood is supplied to the brain, this can cause a stroke.
The biggest risk factor is with people who have low density lipoprotein - LDL (or ‘bad’) – cholesterol, which can lead to hard plaque building up inside of the artery walls. It is this plaque buildup that makes arteries narrower and less flexible.
As Dr. Eslami explains, in communication with Digital Journal: “When plaque builds up in your carotid artery it can cause the artery to narrow – that’s called carotid stenosis.”
The medic adds: “Small clots can form on the plaque, then break off and travel to the brain. If a clot blocks a vessel in the brain it can cause a minor or major stroke depending on the diameter of the blocked artery.”
It is estimated that, in the U.S., carotid stenosis causes around one-third of all strokes and stroke itself causes one in every 15 deaths. Men are affected more than women. The disease normally hits people by surprise since there is rarely any warning. Detection is normally via ultrasound.
If the results are positive, then referral should be made to a vascular surgeon. Ideally medication is given; in extreme cases surgery may be performed. This is a process called endarterectomy , which involves the opening of the carotid for a cleaning. This called be followed by angioplasty and stenting, which involves inserting and inflating a miniature balloon to widen the artery, followed by the insertion of a small stent.
The aim of Stroke Awareness Month is to alert people to the risk factors and to stress the importance of medical check-ups, especially for those aged over 65.
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