DEAR DOCTOR K: My father's doctor wants him to have an ultrasound of his carotid artery. What is the carotid artery? What will the doctor be looking for?
DEAR READER: The carotid arteries carry oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from the heart to the brain. These crucial arteries can become narrowed by the cholesterol-filled plaques of atherosclerosis. Blood clots can form from the plaques, then break off and travel to the brain. There, they can lodge in small arteries, interrupting the vital flow of blood to brain cells.