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Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease occurs when fatty deposits (plaques) clog the blood vessels that deliver blood to your brain and head (carotid arteries). The blockage increases your risk of stroke, a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or seriously reduced.
Stroke deprives your brain of oxygen. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. Stroke is the most common cause of death and the leading cause of permanent disability.
Carotid artery disease develops slowly. The first sign that you have the condition may be a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a temporary shortage of blood flow to your brain.
Treatment of carotid artery disease usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medication and sometimes surgery.

Symptoms

In its early stages, carotid artery disease often doesn't produce any signs or symptoms. The condition may go unnoticed until it's serious enough to deprive your brain of blood, causing a stroke or TIA.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke or TIA include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face or limbs, often on only one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble speaking and understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause