The Carotid Arteries are located on either side of your neck, and carry blood to your brain, head, and face.  When plaque develops in the Carotid arteries, the condition is known as “Carotid Artery Stenosis”.  When blood flow is reduced to the brain it can cause a stroke, which can be life threatening.

Risk Factors

Like many vascular diseases, lifestyle is a large factor in preventing carotid artery disease.

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Other arterial diseases that weaken artery walls


Symptoms for carotid artery disease may not occur until the artery is nearly blocked (in most cases around 80% blockage). Once the artery is blocked to that degree, risk of ischemic attack (mini-stroke/TIA) or stroke increases greatly.

  • Sudden headache
  • Weakness or numbness in limbs, or on one side of your face
  • Dizziness
  • Problems comprehending speech or speaking
  • Vision loss


If you are at a high risk for Carotid Disease, it’s important to take preventative measures to confirm that blood flow is adequate through the carotid artery. Many tools and tests are available for detecting carotid disease:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Angiogram


Treatment will depend on the severity of CAD, and if you have experienced a stroke as a result of CAD. If CAD is detected before a stroke occurs, treatment will be mostly lifestyle based:

If you have already experienced a stroke, treatment is approached in a different manner.

  • Carotid Enarterectomy is the most common intervention for CAD. It involves opening the carotid artery and removing the blockage.
  • More severe cases may involve placing a stent in the artery to maintain blood flow.

Would you like more information on Carotid Artery Disease?  Visit the Society for Vascular Surgery’s Patient Resources Section here.