Carotid Artery Disease

What is a Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease results from plaque buildup within the carotid arteries that supply blood to your brain.  Often times, people with this condition do not notice any symptoms. Significant plaque buildup of this magnitude that goes unnoticed, however, can increase your risk for a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Age (particularly if you are older than 65)
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol consumption
  • High-fat diet
  • Family history of stroke

Symptoms

Although carotid artery disease often does not produce any symptoms and is diagnosed incidentally during testing for other conditions, symptomatic carotid stenosis can present as a TIA or stroke. 

Diagnosis and Tests

If your physician suspects that you have carotid artery disease, he or she may order the following tests to evaluate and monitor your condition:

  • Carotid duplex ultrasound
  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA)
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)

Treatments

  • Lifestyle changes (smoking cessation, more exercise, weight loss, etc.)
  • Hypertension control
  • Hyperlipidemia control
  • Carotid endarterectomy (a procedure done to remove plaque buildup from inside carotid arteries)
  • Carotid stenting (a procedure done to increase blood flow in areas blocked by plaque)