What is Carotid Artery Disease? Are You at Risk?

What is Carotid Artery Disease? Are You at Risk?

Carotid artery disease (CAD) occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked. These arteries, called the carotid arteries, supply your brain with blood. The two carotid arteries, one on each side of the neck, are the main blood supply to the brain. Each carotid artery extends upward from the aorta in the chest and into the base of the skull to enter the brain.

Carotid artery disease can lead to stroke

Approximately 25% of strokes are caused by carotid artery disease from atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to the brain. Eventually, the artery narrows, blood flow is decreased, and the risk of stroke is increased. The patient may experience symptoms such as blurred vision, slurred speech, or weakness, which are all signs of stroke.

By removing the fat and cholesterol build-up inside the artery, adequate blood flow is restored, which can help prevent a stroke. Blockages of carotid arteries in the neck are responsible for more than half of all strokes.

Click on the video to hear Dr. William Julien talk about treatment for CAD

Atherosclerosis can lead to carotid artery disease

As people age, arterial plaque made up of cholesterol, other lipids, calcium, and fibrous tissue can build up in the walls of their arteries. As the plaque deposits enlarge, the arteries become narrow and stiffened, causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which tends to develop later in life.

Atherosclerosis begins with partial but progressive blockage or narrowing of arteries. When enough plaque has accumulated to interfere with blood flow in the main arteries to the brain, a person is said to have severe carotid artery disease. A complete blockage that stops all blood flow through the carotid artery can follow.

To learn more about carotid artery disease (CAD) visit our educational page to learn about symptoms, risk factors and minimally invasive treatment options performed by our board certified, endovascular surgeons Dr. William Julien and Dr. Curtis Anderson at South Florida Vascular Associates.

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