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Atherosclerosis Can Lead to Stroke

Physicians discussing test results Atherosclerosis is a term given to plaque buildup in the arteries.  It is often referred to as hardening of the arteries. Currently, its direct cause is unknown, but certain risk factors have been identified as increasing people’s risks of developing the condition. Some risk factors aren’t controllable; for example, the older the person, the more likely they are to have atherosclerosis. Also, if they have a family history of heart disease, they may have higher odds of developing the condition as well. Many factors that contribute to the accumulation of fatty deposits can be controlled, however. These include:

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Being overweight
  • Having high blood pressure

Many of these factors are interlinked and can be addressed by making lifestyle changes. In most cases, atherosclerosis isn’t diagnosed until after it leads to a heart attack or a stroke. In the case of a stroke, atherosclerosis has typically developed into carotid artery disease, which means that the large arteries of the neck have become blocked by fatty deposits and can deprive the brain of oxygen-rich blood. Whether a stroke is caused by atherosclerosis or another condition, it’s essential to get someone showing signs of stroke medical attention as soon as possible. That means calling 9-1-1 right away and requesting for transportation to the nearest comprehensive stroke center.

As a state-designated comprehensive stroke center and the first Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program-certified comprehensive stroke center on Florida’s west coast, Tampa General Hospital is equipped to address strokes of all kinds. We have one of the largest neuroscience intensive care units in the nation, as well as a dedicated staff that specializes in stroke care available 24/7. Strokes that are caused by atherosclerosis are known as "ischemic strokes."  At TGH we able to treat them using medication and mechanical clot removal. Our surgeons can also remove plaque from the carotid artery to help prevent another stroke.