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The carotid arteries are blood vessels that run along both sides of your neck and deliver oxygen-rich blood to your brain. In carotid artery disease (CAD), these vessels become narrow due to the buildup of cholesterol-based plaque. These narrowed arteries can cause health problems like stroke and the deterioration of brain tissue due to oxygen deprivation.
Carotid artery disease is caused by the buildup of fatty plaques on the walls of the arteries.
Factors that increase the risk of carotid artery disease are the same as heart disease risk factors and include:
Many people do not experience any signs and symptoms of carotid artery disease until the disease is advanced. A transient ischemic attack (TIA or “mini-stroke”) or stroke may be the first sign you have carotid artery disease.
Your doctor may discover the condition during a routine exam. Bruit (pronounced “broo-EE”) is a characteristic whooshing sound from narrowed carotid arteries as your cardiologist or doctor listens with a stethoscope. Vascular ultrasound can also confirm the presence and severity of carotid stenosis (narrowing).
Our advanced carotid artery disease treatment and prevention at Dignity Health will usually focus on reducing the buildup of fatty plaques that clog these important blood vessels. Your doctor may suggest the following strategies to prevent the disease from worsening:
Partner with our cardiologists and other health experts to care for your heart health and overall well-being.