Carotid Artery Disease

The carotid arteries carry blood flow from the heart to the brain, travelling through the neck. There is one carotid artery on each side of the neck, and on each side the carotid artery divides into two branches, the external and internal carotid arteries. The internal carotid artery continues on to the brain, while the external carotid artery carries blood to the face. Turbulence at the division of the carotid artery causes all of us to develop some mild narrowing within this artery as we age.

In some patients this narrowing becomes very severe. Severe narrowing of the carotid artery can lead to stroke. Plaque and tiny clots can accumulate on the blockage, only to then be swept away up to the brain where they can cause temporary or permanent strokes.

Carotid endarterectomy is a surgery performed to clean severe blockages from the carotid artery, thereby reducing a patient’s risk of stroke.

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