The carotid arteries are the major arteries in your neck that supply your brain with blood. Carotid artery disease occurs when these arteries become narrowed or blocked with a substance called plaque. This condition can cause a stroke if the plaque prompts a blood clot to form that blocks the artery, stopping the flow of blood to the brain.
Unfortunately, the first symptom of carotid artery disease may be a stroke. However, people with carotid artery disease sometimes experience stroke-like attacks called Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs), which last for a few minutes to an hour and can involve one or more of these symptoms:
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body
- Being unable to speak clearly
- Inability to control the movement of an arm or leg
- Losing vision in one eye
Don’t ignore these symptoms, even if they go away quickly - see a doctor. A TIA is a warning sign of carotid artery disease and a possible stroke in the future.
Carotid artery disease is caused by hardened or clogged arteries (a condition also called atherosclerosis). Factors that lead to hardened arteries include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, aging, diabetes, or a family history of the condition.
Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can help you keep your cholesterol and blood pressure down, keep your arteries clear, and prevent carotid artery disease.
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat sources of protein such as nuts and fish
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight and keep diabetes under control
- Quit smoking