Carotid Artery Disease

What are carotid arteries?

Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to the head and the body. There are two carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain. The carotid arteries lie on either side in the lower neck below the angle of the jaw. The carotid arteries supply blood to the front of the brain where thinking, speech, personality and sensory and motor functions reside. The vertebral arteries run through the spine and supply blood to the back part of the brain where brain stem and the cerebellum are present.

What is carotid artery disease?

Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis which is due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is fat and other circulating substances (inflammatory cells, proteins, waste products, and calcium) deposition within the wall of the artery and called plaque. This plaque causes narrowing which progressively increases to block the artery and puts the patient at increased risk of stroke. Stroke is the 4th most common cause of death and the leading cause of permanent disability.

Who is prone to carotid artery disease?

These include:

  • A family history of carotid artery disease, cardiac disease or peripheral artery disease.
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary life
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol levels mainly LDL and triglycerides