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Carotid Artery Disease: September 10, 2011

Paul Christen quit smoking 32 years ago and exercises on a regular basis. He thought he was doing everything right and had no idea something was wrong.

“I don’t think anybody’s aware of their arteries being blocked up and because there’s no sign.”

Turns out he had major blockage of his carotid artery. Located on both sides of the neck under the jaw line, they supply blood to the brain.

“I found that I had an 80% blockage in the carotid artery and it was actually Dr. Taschner that found it,” says Paul.

Paul went to a cardiologist to manage his blood pressure.

“We always work on primary prevention and secondary prevention and a lot of the treatments are the same. Monitoring patients early for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, we evaluate their family history, their smoking history; so a lot of these traditional risk factors,” says Dr. Brian Taschner, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

It was the series of screenings and tests that uncovered a hidden ailment. Paul had several risk factors for carotid artery disease which put him at risk for stroke.

“A stroke is when there is a sudden occlusion or clotting up of an artery in the brain, and when that suddenly happens, the part of the brain that receives blood supply from the artery then gets damaged. Cholesterol plaque is not regular and that irregular surface of the will then lead itself to making blood clots formation can start a stroke,” says neurologist Dr. Nima Mowzoon.

Treatments vary, from using diet to control blood pressure and cholesterol to blood thinning medications, and in cases like Paul’s, surgery to remove plaque and restore proper blood flow.

He hates to think what could have happened, if he hadn’t been tested.
“A year from now or two years or whatever I may not be around. It’s always good to have to get checked up.”

Taking good care of yourself, is no accident.