Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid (ka-ROT-id) artery disease is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside the carotid arteries. You have two common carotid arteries, one on each side of your neck. They each divide into internal and external carotid arteries.

The internal carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. The external carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your face, scalp, and neck.

Carotid artery disease is serious because it can cause a stroke, also called a “brain attack.” A stroke occurs if blood flow to your brain is cut off.
If blood flow is cut off for more than a few minutes, the cells in your brain start to die. This impairs the parts of the body that the brain cells control. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage; long-term disability, such as vision or speech problems or paralysis (an inability to move); or death.

Carotid artery disease may not cause signs or symptoms until the carotid arteries are severely narrowed or blocked. For some people, a stroke is the first sign of the disease. Interventional radiology can be a preventative measure instead of open heart surgery to help treat the disease before a stroke occurs in the individual.