The carotid arteries are located along both sides of the neck and are
the primary source of blood to the brain. A blockage in one or both can
lead to a stroke. Every 45 seconds someone in the US has a stroke.
What puts you at risk to have a stroke?
- Hardening of the arteries
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol level
- Family history of stroke
- Personal history of stroke
- Personal history of heart or leg bypass
Signs and Symptoms
What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?
(If you experience any of these symptoms dial 911 immediately.)
- Sudden onset of numbness, weakness,paralysis, and/or loss of coordination on one side of the body
- Drooping of one side of the mouth or face
- Sudden onset of temporary loss of vision in one eye. This is
described sometimes as a curtain shade being drawn down over one of the
- Inability to speak and/or understand spoken or written words or thick and garbled speech
- Brief period of time that cannot be recalled
- Loss of consciousness
- Carotid artery bruit (noise heard over the carotid artery your doctor can hear with a stethoscope)
How is carotid artery blockage diagnosed?
- History and physical exam
- Carotid duplex ultrasound
- Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
How is carotid artery blockage treated?
Treatment depends on severity of blockage, symptoms, and overall health of person but may include:
- Risk factor reduction
- Surgery to remove the blockage
- Stent placement for patients at increased risk of complications during surgery