What Is Carotid Artery Disease?

The carotid arteries provide the majority of blood flow to the brain. Carotid artery disease occurs when the carotid arteries become narrowed or blocked. The major cause of carotid artery disease is atherosclerosis, a slow process in which deposits of fat, cholesterol and calcium, also known as plaque, build up inside an artery.

Risk factors

Risk factors are habits, traits or conditions that may increase a person's chance of developing atherosclerosis. Risk factors that cannot be changed include age, family history of stroke and gender (male or post-menopausal female). Risk factors that can be controlled or modified include:

  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

Meet the Carotid Artery Disease Team

Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is a nationally recognized destination for those who require highly specialized cardiovascular care.

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