A new study has found that the narrowing of carotid arteries in the patients suffering from carotid artery disease signals the onset of memory and mental decline in them. Carotid artery can be classified into Common, External and Internal carotid arteries.
Common carotid artery is often used for measuring the pulse.
The arteries start contracting due to the built-up plaque along the inside walls of the arteries. This peripheral arterial disease leads to “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis) in the main arteries which carry oxygen-rich blood to the brain (the carotid arteries).
Those suffering from the disease are at much higher risk of having an ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke.
Dr. Brajesh Lal, of the Baltimore VA Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, “To date, the focus of diagnosis and management of carotid artery blockages has been prevention of stroke since that was the only harm that these blockages were thought to cause to patients.”
For the study, researchers involved around 127participants and divided them into two groups. Both the parts were then compared. The learning and memory skills of 67 patients with 50 percent reduction in the diameter of the carotid artery were compared to 60 patients with normal blood flow through the carotid vessel. The researchers found that the carotid blockage patients performed worse on the thinking tests. Their scores were low on motor and processing speed evaluations, learning and memory tests.
“These results underscore the importance of assessing the status of memory and thinking in people with carotid artery narrowing. If these findings are confirmed in larger studies, they hold significant implications for new treatment targets and open the door for more questions such as: should these patients be treated more aggressively with medications, cognitive rehabilitation, or even surgery to open up the artery,” Lal said in a news release.
Carotid artery disease has several risk factors including atherosclerosis of the main arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood to the heart (the coronary arteries).
Carotid artery gives out different branches which are involved in controlling the pharyngeal reflexes, lingual, etc. Hence these functions are also at risk of getting impaired if the patient suffers from carotid artery disease.
The study is slated to be presented on Wednesday at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) annual meeting in Philadelphia.