The carotid arteries are the main arteries in your neck that supply blood to your brain. A substance called plaque accumulates inside your arteries as you age. If too much plaque builds up in your carotid artery, it can cause the artery to narrow (carotid stenosis). Small clots can form, then break off and travel to the brain, causing a minor or major stroke.
Up to 3% of individuals older than 65 have carotid artery disease. Your risk increases as you age, and is heightened if you have a history of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease. Carotid stenosis is responsible for up to one-third of all strokes. Stroke causes 1 in every 15 deaths. About 700,000 strokes occur every year, usually in men.
Medical therapy and managing risk factors with regular monitoring
MAY BE ABSENT
Most people with carotid artery disease, even with severe blockage, experience no symptoms. The condition is found in a routine physical or ophthalmological examination, or is found following a stroke.
IN RARE CASES
Very rarely, carotid artery disease may cause ringing in the ears or fainting due to decreased blood flow to the brain. Neck pain is not a symptom of carotid artery disease.
WEAKNESS, NUMBNESS, SLURRED SPEECH
The first signs of carotid artery disease may be a stroke, mini-stroke or TIA symptoms, such as weakness or numbness on one side of your body. You may also experience slurred speech or facial drooping.