Understanding Carotid Artery Disease
The carotid arteries are the two large blood vessels on either side of the neck. They are the main source of blood to the brain. Carotid artery disease occurs when on or both arteries become narrowed or blocked by a build-up of plaque. Plaque is made up of scar tissue, blood cells in the artery wall, cholesterol and other fatty substances. This build up is caused by atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, and can slow or stop blood flow to the brain.
Interrupted blood flow can cause symptoms such as temporary blindness in one eye, numbness or weakness in an extremity, difficulty speaking and, occasionally, fainting or dizziness. This condition, if left untreated, can lead to a stroke. A stroke causes permanent injury to the brain.