Friday, November 8, 2013

What You and Your Senior Need to Know About Carotid Artery Disease

Seniors and their families should understand the basics of carotid artery disease, which is when the major arteries in the neck become narrow and blocked. These arteries, known as the carotid arteries, are what supply the brain with the blood it needs to function on a daily basis. When the arteries become blocked by plaque (made up of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue), the arteries start to narrow and stiffen. Eventually, this condition can lead to a stroke. In order to keep your elderly loved one healthy, it is important to understand how to prevent the condition from developing.

A person’s chance of developing carotid artery disease increases as they age. Only one percent of those aged 50 to 59 have narrowed carotid arteries, yet 10 percent of those 80 to 89 have this issue. Fortunately, even as a person ages, there are some steps that they can take to protect their body. To avoid carotid artery disease (and stroke), a senior should focus on exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.

In order to provide proper care for elderly people, families and homecare professionals must do what they can to ensure that their senior is getting some physical activity in during the course of each day. Proper diet is also key when it comes to preventing such conditions from occurring.

What are the symptoms of carotid artery disease?

Unfortunately, many people only find out that they have this condition when they suffer a stroke. Others may experience transient ischemic attacks, known as TIAs, ahead of time. Symptoms of a TIA last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour and include:

  • Weakness or tingling in one side of the body
  • Inability to control the movement of arms or legs
  • Lost vision
  • Inability to speak clearly

Eldercare professionals and family members should ensure that their senior gets regular checkups to help pick up on the signs of carotid artery disease before serious damage occurs. To do this, a doctor can listen for the sounds of turbulent blood flow in the elderly individual’s arteries, and will also measure their blood pressure. These preventative measures can help to keep your senior safe as they age.

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