Carotid artery stenosis, also known as carotid artery disease, is a narrowing or constriction of the carotid arteries on either side of the neck that carry blood to the head, face and brain. It is usually caused by the build-up of plaque within the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Stenosis can worsen over time to completely block the artery, which may lead to stroke.
What is carotid artery stenosis?
Carotid artery stenosis 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, depriving the brain of essential oxygen.
What are the symptoms of carotid artery stenosis?
Carotid artery stenosis develops slowly, and the first sign may be a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a temporary shortage of blood flow to your brain. 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