During a physical exam, your doctor may listen to your carotid arteries with a stethoscope. He or she may hear a whooshing sound called a bruit. This sound may suggest changed or reduced blood flow due to plaque buildup. To find out more, your doctor may recommend tests.
Not all people who have carotid artery disease have bruits.
Transient Ischemic Attack (Mini-Stroke)
For some people, having a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or “mini-stroke,” is the first sign of carotid artery disease. During a mini-stroke, you may have some or all of the symptoms of a stroke. However, the symptoms usually go away on their own within 24 hours.
Stroke and mini-stroke symptoms may include:
- A sudden, severe headache with no known cause
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Inability to move one or more of your limbs
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden weakness or numbness in the face or limbs, often on just one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
Even if the symptoms stop quickly, call 9–1–1 for emergency help. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. It’s important to get checked and to get treatment started as soon as possible.
A mini-stroke is a warning sign that you’re at high risk of having a stroke. You shouldn’t ignore these symptoms. Getting medical care can help find possible causes of a mini-stroke and help you manage risk factors. These actions might prevent a future stroke.
Although a mini-stroke may warn of a stroke, it doesn’t predict when a stroke will happen. A stroke may occur days, weeks, or even months after a mini-stroke.
The symptoms of a stroke are the same as those of a mini-stroke, but the results are not. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage; long-term disability, such as vision or speech problems or paralysis (an inability to move); or death. Most people who have strokes have not previously had warning mini-strokes.
Getting treatment for a stroke right away is very important. You have the best chance for full recovery if treatment to open a blocked artery is given within 4 hours of symptom onset. The sooner treatment occurs, the better your chances of recovery.
Call 9–1–1 for emergency help as soon as symptoms occur. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. It’s very important to get checked and to get treatment started as soon as possible.
Make those close to you aware of stroke symptoms and the need for urgent action. Learning the signs and symptoms of a stroke will allow you to help yourself or someone close to you lower the risk of brain damage or death due to a stroke.