Your doctor may suggest a carotid ultrasound when they suspect narrowed carotid arteries, which often increases the risk of stroke. The carotid arteries become closed due to plaque buildup – fat, cholesterol, calcium, and various other substances that circulate in the bloodstream. The key here is an early diagnosis. Once diagnosed, treatment may begin to reduce the risk of a stroke.
When It’s Used
Your doctor may recommend scheduling a carotid ultrasound if you experience transient ischemic attacks or specific types of strokes. Furthermore, you may undergo an ultrasound if you suffer from medical conditions that increase the likelihood of stroke, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- History of stroke or heart disease within your family
- Recent transient ischemic attacks or stroke
- Abnormal sound in the arteries
- Coronary artery disease
Combating a stroke or the causes of a stroke are not the only uses for carotid ultrasounds, though. Your doctor may order the procedure to:
- Evaluate blood flow through the arteries after surgery to help remove plaque
- Evaluate placement and effectiveness of a stent, used to improve blood flow
- Locate clotted blood that prevents proper flow
- Detect carotid artery abnormalities that could disrupt regular blood flow
How to Prepare
Before your appointment, it’s best to prepare. You may call the day before the exam to confirm both time and location. You’ll want to be somewhat early to the appointment, in case of paperwork. Furthermore, wear comfortable clothing. A shirt with no collar or an open collar is an excellent choice. Lastly, avoid hanging jewelry, such as necklaces or dangling earrings.
Unless your doctor provides special instructions, you won’t need to prepare any further than that.