Carotid Artery Disease 2018-03-15T13:01:23-05:00

Vascular Surgery

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease is a serious health condition that leads to stroke. The carotid arteries lie in the neck and supply blood to the brain, and when that supply is limited, a stroke will soon occur. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Carotid artery disease is also known as Carotid Artery Stenosis. Stenosis means narrowing. The disease narrows the arteries and ends up causing other serious health conditions.  There are many different causes of carotid artery disease. One major cause is diet. A bad diet will clog the arteries and can event prevent blood flow altogether. Knowing the symptoms of carotid artery disease will help you get ahead of it before you end up in the hospital.

The carotid artery is a large artery in the neck. Arteries are the largest of the blood vessels. The carotid arteries sit on each side of the neck. They both take blood to the brain. I’m sure you knew the brain needed oxygen, but you probably did not know it needs blood as well. The blood carries the oxygen to the brain. If the blood cannot get to the brain, you will end up having a stroke. Blood supply gets cut off when there is a blockage in the artery. Small blockages do not necessarily cause any problems but may bring about systems. If treatment is not done right away, the artery can be completely blocked leading to a stroke.

Risk Factors 

There are many risk factors for carotid artery disease. Smoking and high blood pressure are two risk factors. These two risk can both be avoided.  Age is another factor. As you get older, your body naturally becomes susceptible to disease. Obesity is a major risk factor. In most cases obesity comes from being sedentary and not eating right. Many people who are obese also have diabetes. As you feed your body with fatty foods, you are also adding cholesterol to the arteries which only clogs them up. If there is a family history of carotid artery disease, you are also more susceptible to having it.


Carotid artery disease does not happen overnight. It takes time. One cheeseburger is not going to clog your arteries. A habit of eating bad foods will start to harden the arteries. Fatty foods make cholesterol which builds up. This buildup of cholesterol narrows the artery and limits the amount of blood that can flow through it. The result is a stroke. Strokes can happen if the blood supply gets completely cut off, the artery ruptures or a piece of that cholesterol breaks off and travels to the brain. No matter the cause, it is very serious and requires immediate attention.


There are no real signs of carotid artery disease. Sometimes the only sign you get is the sign of stroke. When you do not eat properly, you will begin to get sluggish and may have more trouble breathing. The food you eat may make you feel fatigue. When you start noticing these symptoms, you should start making changes. Your symptoms will soon turn to signs of stroke. When you have a stroke, your vision will change. You will also experience numbness or weakness on one side of your body. You will notice your face droop on one side. Confusion is very common. You may forget where you are and have slurred speech. Your blood pressure tends to go up, and you will also get a headache.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Carotid artery disease is not typically diagnosed until you have a stroke. There are rare occasions that you will get a diagnosis during your annual visit. The doctor will listen to the pulse in your neck, and if it sounds abnormal, they may have you go for a further test. They may choose to do an MRA or an Ultrasound. The best method of diagnosis is a cerebral angiography. The doctor can examine blood flow through the arteries, and it gives a clear diagnosis of narrowing or blockage. If a carotid artery disease diagnosis is confirmed, the first step of treatment is changing your lifestyle. You have to eat better and exercise. Exercise helps the body function properly and break down the fat better. Your diet is of the utmost importance because it helps you keep a good weight and limits the cholesterol inside your blood vessels. Limiting alcohol is also helpful. If you are a smoker, quitting will be extremely beneficial. That will help your health as well.

Carotid artery disease is a serious disease but an avoidable one. Keeping up with a healthy lifestyle will help you keep your arteries free of cholesterol. If carotid artery disease or stroke runs in your family, you should make sure to keep up on your yearly visits. An early diagnosis can prevent stroke. Strokes can change your life and have you in need of daily help. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.


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