Carotid Disease

Carotid arteries are the blood vessels that deliver blood through the neck to the brain.
Blockages in the carotid artery decrease blood flow to the brain, causing a medical condition
known as carotid artery disease.

Interruptions in the blood flow to the brain can cause permanent damage (commonly known as
stroke). If the interruption of blood flow is brief, only lasts a few minutes, it is known as an
transient ischemic event or TIA.

Blockage of the carotid arteries is due to plaque build-up. The process of plaque build-up is
called arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis and is the same process that causes coronary artery
disease and peripheral vascular disease. Over time, this narrowing may become so severe
that a blockage decreases blood flow to the brain and a stroke can occur. A stroke can occur if
a piece of plaque or blood clot breaks off from the wall of the carotid and travels to smaller
arteries of the brain.

The slow build up of plaque is caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and/
or smoking.


Carotid artery blockage often has no symptoms and is unknown to the patient and doctor until
it disrupts blood flow to the brain.

  • Loss of eyesight or blurry eyesight in one eye
  • Slurred words or difficulty finding words to express yourself
  • Loss of strength or feeling of an arm, leg or entire side of the body
  • Numbness or tingling of your arm, leg or face on one side of your body
  • One side of your face may become numb or droopy
  • Dizziness, confusion, fainting or coma

Risk Factors:

  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Family History of Coronary Artery Disease
  • Obesity
  • Lack of Exercise

How it is Diagnosed:

  • Ultrasound: Uses sound waves to check blood flow and measure thickness of your carotid artery
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA): A type of magnetic resonance imaging that uses harmless but powerful magnetic fields to give a detailed picture of the arteries in your brain
  • Angiography: Takes X-ray pictures of the carotid artery after a special dye is injected into your blood

Treatment Options:

  • Lifestyle Changes - quit smoking; control your blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease
  • Limit alcohol if you drink (1 oz of liquor, 1 8-oz glass of wine or 2 12-oz glasses of beer per day)
  • Exercise - 30 minutes or more of walking daily
  • Use less salt (2000 mg or less of sodium a day)
  • Medications
  • Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting
  • Surgery - Carotid Endarterectomy
Disclaimer: All results may not be found. This section offers educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease and is not intended to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnoses disorders. Specific medical advice is not be provided and we urge you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis, treatment and for answers to your questions.