Carotid artery diseaseCarotid artery disease, also called carotid artery stenosis, is the narrowing of the carotid arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. There are two common carotid arteries, one on each side of neck. They each divide into internal and external carotid arteries. The internal carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to brain. The external carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to face, scalp, and neck Atherosclerosis is the buildup of cholesterol, fat and other substances traveling through the bloodstream. These substances stick to the blood vessel walls over time as people age, and combine to form a material called plaque. Plaque buildup can lead to narrowing or blockage in the carotid artery which, when significant, can put an individual at increased risk for stroke.

Carotid Artery Disease
Signs & Symptoms

Carotid artery disease is often asymptomatic until the blockage(s) become significant and the patient is at considerable risk for a stroke or suffers an actual stroke.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis and thus, carotid artery disease, include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of both a stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) include:

  • Weakness or paralysis of a limb or one side of the body
  • Inability to speak or articulate clearly
  • Blindness or other visual changes in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty swallowing

Along with carotid artery disease, there are a number of less common conditions that also can affect the carotid arteries, including:

  • Aneurysms, or swelling of the artery
  • Carotid body tumors, which are tumors that arise from and involve the carotid arteries
  • Recurrent blockages after prior carotid artery surgery
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia, an inflammatory condition of the artery
  • Inominate artery disease, or blockages in an artery below the carotid artery
  • Carotid artery dissections, where the wall of the artery splits or tears

Treatments for carotid artery disease may include lifestyle changes, medicines, and medical procedures. The goals of treatment are to stop the disease from getting worse and to prevent a stroke.
Your treatment will depend on your symptoms, how severe the disease is, and your age and overall health.
Lifestyle Changes
Making lifestyle changes can help prevent carotid artery disease or keep it from getting worse. For some people, these changes may be the only treatment needed:

  • Follow a healthy diet to prevent or lower high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol and to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active. Check with your doctor first to find out how much and what kinds of activity are safe for you.
  • If you’re overweight or obese, lose weight.
  • If you smoke, quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.

Related Procedures

You may need a medical procedure to treat carotid artery disease. Doctors use one of two methods to open narrowed or blocked carotid arteries:
Carotid Endarterectomy
Carotid Artery Angioplasty
Carotid Artery Stenting

Experienced Doctors & Surgeons

Dr. VOURLIOTAKIS, Vascular Surgeon

Dr Vourliotakis Georgios MD, PhH – Vascular Surgeon Specializes in: Vascular Surgery Location: Athens Here you can find further information about Dr Vourliotakis, his scientific work and his activities in the field of Vascular & Endovascular Surgery. Dr. VOURLIOTAKIS, Vascular Surgeon

Carotid Artery Disease