Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Community
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WELCOME TO THE ARTERIOVENOUS MALFORMATION (AVM) COMMUNITY: This Patient-To-Patient Community is for discussions relating to Arteriovenous Malformations, which are defects of the circulatory system that are generally believed to arise during embryonic or fetal development or soon after birth. They are comprised of snarled tangles of arteries and veins.

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms...

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease may not cause signs or symptoms until it severely narrows or blocks the carotid arteries. Signs and symptoms may include a bruit (broo-E), a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a stroke.


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. To find out more, your doctor may order tests.

Not all people who have carotid artery disease have bruits.

Transient Ischemic Attack

For some people, having a 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.

The symptoms may include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face or limbs, often on just one side of the body
  • The inability to move one or more of your limbs
  • Trouble speaking and understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • A sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Even if the symptoms stop quickly, you should see a doctor right away. Call 9–1–1 (don’t drive yourself to the hospital). It’s important to get checked and to get treatment started within 1 hour of having symptoms.

A mini-stroke is a warning sign that you’re at high risk of having a stroke. You shouldn’t ignore these symptoms. About one-third of people who have mini-strokes will have strokes if they don’t get treatment.

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. In about half of the cases of strokes that follow a TIA, the stroke occurs within 1 year.


Most people who have carotid artery disease don’t have mini-strokes before they have strokes. The symptoms of stroke are the same as those of mini-stroke, but the results are not. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, paralysis (an inability to move), or even death.

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 6 hours of symptom onset. Ideally, treatment should be given within 3 hours of symptom onset.

Call 9–1–1 as soon as symptoms occur (don’t drive yourself to the hospital). It’s very important to get checked and to get treatment started within 1 hour of having symptoms.

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 for damage or death from a stroke.

Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]

Retrieved: June 2008

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