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Treatment You Can Trust: Carotid Artery Disease


The carotid arteries run along both sides of your neck, delivering oxygen-rich blood to your brain. Carotid artery disease occurs when the buildup of cholesterol-based plaque causes the vessels to narrow. Carotid artery disease can cause dangerous health problems, including the slow deterioration of brain tissue due to a lack of oxygen and stroke.

Dignity Health’s cardiac care services are dedicated to keeping your heart beating strong. Our facilities in the Bay Area feature everything from the latest diagnostic testing to advanced operating rooms. If you are in need of treatment for carotid artery disease in the Bay Area, Dignity Health is here for you. Use our online Find a Doctor tool to locate a doctor near you.

Carotid Artery Disease Symptoms

Because carotid artery disease can often occur without symptoms, or have no noticeable symptoms, many people do not know they have it until it is advanced. The first sign of carotid artery disease many people experience is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or mini-stroke. Sometimes, doctors discover carotid artery disease while listening to the heart during a routine physical exam. If your doctor suspects carotid artery disease, a vascular ultrasound can confirm its presence.

Causes of Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease is caused by gradual buildup of fatty plaque along the walls of the arteries over time. 

Factors that increase the risk of carotid artery disease include:

  • Age (risk increases with age due to the slow progression of the disease)
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Regularly high blood sugar levels
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking

Dignity Health: Treating Carotid Artery Disease

Our treatment and prevention strategies for carotid artery disease usually focus on reducing the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries in order to prevent complications such as stroke. Your Dignity Health doctor may suggest the following treatments:

  • Medications to reduce blood cholesterol levels, hypertension, and other heart-related conditions
  • Medications to prevent blood clots
  • Surgery to either clear the plaque from the carotid arteries or insert stents to hold the carotid arteries open

Lifestyle changes can also help slow the progression of the disease. Our doctors encourage you to:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.

Regardless of where you live in the Bay Area, Dignity Health’s heart care team can answer your questions with respect and compassion so that you feel comfortable and confident with your medical treatment. 

Dignity Health offers expert cardiovascular care to diagnose and treat carotid artery disease in the Bay Area.