What is Carotid Artery Disease?
Carotid artery disease is a form of disease that affects the vessels leading to the head and brain. It is the leading cause of strokes. More than 700,000 strokes occur every year in the U.S., with more than 160,000 of them resulting in death. Stroke is the number 3 cause of mortality in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability among older Americans.
What You Need to Know About Carotid Artery Disease
Blood is delivered to the brain by the two large carotid arteries in the front of your neck. Each carotid artery supplies oxygen to one-half of your brain. A stroke most often occurs when the carotid arteries become blocked and the brain does not get enough oxygen. The blockage of this artery may lead to loss of movement, feeling, speech or vision.
Carotid artery disease increases the risk of stroke in three ways:
By fatty deposits called plaque severely narrowing the carotid arteries.
By a blood clot becoming wedged in a carotid artery narrowed by plaque.
By plaque breaking off from the carotid arteries and blocking a smaller artery in the brain (cerebral artery).
Who May Be at Risk?
If you have carotid artery disease, you probably also have severe coronary artery disease or have a parent who died from coronary artery disease. So the risk factors for carotid artery disease are similar to those for coronary artery disease: