Do you know your family history of deadly diseases? People discover that they have these day in and day out…but as a 47-year-old woman who is already aware of the God awful heart diseases and cancer in my family genes, I learned of this years and years ago…however, some things that I did not know have concerned me, and now I need to pass this important literature on to my children both in their mid twenties. I remember as a young girl going to visit my grandfather in the hospital after open heart surgeries…back then in the 70’s it was serious but so out of touch too. When I say out of touch I mean; we did not have the internet like we do today to Google or Bing a word/word phrase to learn of its findings…all we had to go on was what the doctors and surgeons told us. What did it mean? Well if grandpa came home it meant they fixed it! Thank goodness for modern-day technology!
My kids often say to me after looking at a long beaten path of family heart and cancer issues “Mom, why did you and Dad even have kids?” You know, I used to laugh back then thinking they were being smart asses, but in reality, what they said I should have listened to a bit better. Do you know how many people have these diseases brewing in their blood and don’t even know it? Do you know how many families don’t tell members (cousins, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, etc) about these things at all? How are we to know then when something happens to us how to trace this back and to whom?
Do your self a favor, and a big one for your family and kids; talk about your family and your ancestors amongst all of the family. Find out who had what and document it. Had my family done more talking, especially pertaining to the headaches, my sister and I could have possibly been diagnosed much sooner and maybe not suffered so much pain.
Today I want to talk arteries. Life is far too short not to learn and understand who has/had what. It’s not to late to stop a train from derailing in your body! Get the answers, and make physical changes to become a healthier you!
Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis. The term refers to the narrowing of the carotid arteries. This narrowing is usually caused by the buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol deposits, called plaque. Carotid artery occlusion refers to complete blockage of the artery. When the carotid arteries are obstructed, you are at an increased risk for a stroke, the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Sound familiar? We have it in our family and chances are so do you! Let’s talk about what it is exactly and how it gets there?
What Are the Carotid Arteries?
The carotid arteries are two large blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the large, front part of the brain. This is where thinking, speech, personality, and sensory and motor functions reside. You can feel your pulse in the carotid arteries on each side of your neck, right below the angle of the jaw line.
How Does Carotid Artery Disease Happen?
Like the arteries that supply blood to the heart — the coronary arteries — the carotid arteries can also develop atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries” on the inside of the vessels.
Over time, the buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol narrows the carotid arteries. This decreases blood flow to the brain and increases the risk of a stroke. FYI- Eat Cheerios! I did and my cholesterol level went down, down, down just like in the commercials on television!
A stroke — sometimes called a “brain attack” — is similar to a heart attack. It occurs when blood flow is cut off from part of the brain. If the lack of blood flow lasts for more than 3 to 6 hours, the damage is usually permanent. A stroke can occur if:
- the artery becomes extremely narrowed
- there’s a rupture in an artery to the brain that has atherosclerosis
- a piece of plaque breaks off and travels to the smaller arteries of the brain
- a blood clot forms and obstructs a blood vessel
Strokes can occur as a result of other conditions besides carotid artery disease. For example, sudden bleeding in the brain, called intracerebral hemorrhage, can cause a stroke. Other possible causes include:
- sudden bleeding in the spinal fluid space — subarachnoid hemorrhage
- atrial fibrillation
- blockage of tiny arteries inside the brain
What Are the Risk Factors for Carotid Artery Disease?
The risk factors for carotid artery disease are similar to those for other types of heart disease. They include:
- hypertension (high blood pressure) — the most important treatable risk factor for stroke
- abnormal lipids or high cholesterol
- diet high in saturated fats
- insulin resistance
- sedentary lifestyle
- family history of atherosclerosis, either coronary artery disease or carotid artery disease
Men under the age of 75 have a greater risk than women. Women have a greater risk over the age of 75. People who have coronary artery disease have an increased risk of developing carotid artery disease. Typically, the carotid arteries become diseased a few years later than the coronary arteries, nonetheless, this can occur at a very young age also. If you are young parents and think that it is easier to go to the drive through at Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or anywhere else, think long and hard before you do so… grease, high cholesterol, and fat just waiting to soak your arteries and cause issues down the road. I believe in the saying “pay me now or pay me later!” We didn’t know how eating all of this shit that was “on the go” food would hurt us, but I’m telling you and so does relative news that it’s hurting your kids!!!! Get healthier, and live healthier. Take care of your body, it is the only one you will ever have!
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