Carotid artery disease

What is it?

Located in your neck, your two carotid arteries are the main vessels that supply blood to the brain, neck and face. Carotid artery disease is the result of atherosclerosis — the buildup of plaque (fatty substances, calcium and waste) in the lining of those arteries. This buildup narrows the passageway inside the arteries, restricting blood flow.

Carotid artery disease develops slowly over time. Symptoms are subtle and generally go unnoticed until the artery becomes nearly or fully blocked. In many cases, carotid artery disease isn't detected until you experiences a transient ischemic attack (TIA), one of several types of stroke often referred to as a mini-stroke.


  • Numbness or tingling.
  • Difficulty speaking or garbling words.
  • Vision disturbances.
  • Headaches.
  • Dizziness or fainting.

Risk factors

  • Advancing age.
  • Family history.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Diabetes.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Smoking/tobacco use.
  • Obesity.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Sleep apnea.

Diagnosing CAD

  • Complete medical history and physical examination.
  • Diagnostic imaging tests.

Treating CAD

  • Lower your risk by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and being active.
  • Medication to manage blood pressure, lower cholesterol and/or prevent blood clotting.
  • Procedures to remove the blockage such as: