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Carotid Artery Dissection Symptoms Should Be Taken Seriously

Carotid artery dissection symptoms may not always be immediately apparent, but they are signs of a serious condition. A carotid artery dissection occurs when one of the arteries that delivers blood to the brain ruptures, often due to some sort of trauma, allowing blood to leak out into the wall of the artery. The blood can then become trapped there, collecting and separating the layers of the arterial wall. This is very dangerous because the blood can then form a clot that could restrict blood flow to the brain at the site of the tear or break off and become lodged deeper in one of the arteries leading to the brain, causing an ischemic stroke.

A carotid artery dissection can have a variety of possible causes, from apparently minor events such as coughing or sneezing to major trauma such as sports injuries or rigorous gymnastics. The typical signs to watch for in this condition include:

  • Temporary blindness, typically in one eye
  • A weak, drooping eyelid with a constricted pupil in the eye (Horner’s syndrome)
  • Swelling of the neck
  • Headache with pain in the neck and face, or symptoms similar to those of a migraine
  • Pulsatile tinnitus, or hearing one’s own heartbeat

If a person shows one or more of these symptoms, especially after some form of trauma, call 9-1-1 immediately for transportation to the nearest comprehensive stroke treatment center for emergency diagnosis and treatment. Tampa General Hospital has a multispecialty team available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at our comprehensive stroke program for reliable access to emergency medical care in the event that someone experiences carotid artery dissection symptoms or other signs related to strokes.

TGH is a state-licensed comprehensive stroke center and was the first center on Florida’s west coast to receive Comprehensive Stroke Certification, the highest national designation, from the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program. We utilize state-of-the-art technology to provide diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitative care for patients with stroke and stroke-related conditions.