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Carotid Artery Disease

Overview

Two large blood vessels, known as the "carotid arteries," travel from your aorta up through your neck. There's one on each side of your neck. They carry blood to your head and brain. In some people, these arteries become narrowed over time by a waxy buildup called "plaque." When this happens, we say you have "carotid artery disease." This disease restricts blood flow. And it can lead to serious health problems.

Causes

What causes this disease? You're more likely to develop it if you are a smoker, if you have high blood pressure, or if you eat a diet high in certain fats and cholesterol. Diabetes also increases your risk. All of these things can damage the inner walls of your arteries. And when these walls are damaged, plaque deposits begin to build up.

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on how severely your arteries have narrowed. At first, you may not have any symptoms. But as it progresses, you can have things like sudden, severe headaches, dizziness or weakness on one side of your body, and problems with vision or speech. You can have a stroke. This is life threatening.

Treatment

Treatment options include a healthier lifestyle and medications. Your doctor may recommend a procedure to help widen your carotid arteries. Your healthcare provider will create a care plan that's right for you.