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Carotid Artery Disease

What is Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease is a major cause of stroke in the United States. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This may limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.

What Complications can Carotid Artery Disease Cause?

Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. For example, if plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries, a heart attack can occur. If plaque builds up in the carotid arteries, a stroke can occur.

A stroke also can occur if blood clots form in the carotid arteries. This can happen if the plaque in an artery cracks or ruptures. Blood cell fragments called platelets (PLATE-lets) stick to the site of the injury and may clump together to form blood clots. Blood clots can partly or fully block a carotid artery.

A piece of plaque or a blood clot can also break away from the wall of the carotid artery. The plaque or clot can travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in one of the brain's smaller arteries. This can block blood flow in the artery and cause a stroke.

What are the signs and symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease may not cause signs or symptoms until the carotid arteries are severely narrowed or blocked. For some people, a stroke is the first sign of the disease.

For more information on carotid artery disease or other neuroscience services available, please call 856-256-7591.