Carotid arteries

Carotid arteries. They are the four main arteries that are mostly on both sides of the neck and in the head. These supply blood to the brain.


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  • 1 Other names
  • 2 parts
  • 3 Diseases
  • 4 Diagnosis
  • 5 Risks
  • 6 Modification of the lifestyle
  • 7 Medications
  • 8 Sources

Other names

Carotid artery stenosis


The initial part of them are named common carotid arteries and arises on the right side of the brachiocephalic trunk and on the left side of the arch of the aorta . They then bifurcate, approximately at the level of the fourth cervical vertebra and are called the external carotid artery and the internal carotid artery. The internal carotid artery will supply the interior of the skull, while the external carotid supplies the head and neck. The internal carotid arteries enter the skull to supply blood to the eyes and brain. At the base of the brain, the two internal carotid arteries and the basilar artery unite to form a ring of blood vessels called the ” circle of Willis” The external carotid arteries have several branches that supply the tissues of the face, scalp, mouth, and jaw.

They have two specialized regions: the carotid sinus, which monitors blood pressure, and the carotid body, which monitors oxygen in the blood and helps regulate breathing.


If there is a disease in these arteries, the artery narrows, usually due to arteriosclerosis , which is the accumulation of cholesterol and other materials. If a blood clot sticks to its walls in this narrowed artery , blood cannot get to the brain, sometimes causing a stroke.

Carotid artery disease often becomes asymptomatic, but there are tests that tell the doctor about its presence, but the warning symptoms of a stroke are a good way to determine if there is a blockage in these arteries. Other signs and symptoms of a blockage in a carotid artery are as follows:

  • Weakness or paralysis of the arm, leg, or face, on one side of the body.
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm, leg, or face, on one side of the body.
  • Difficulty to swallow.
  • Vision loss or blurred vision in one eye.
  • Dizziness, confusion, fainting, or coma.
  • Sudden, severe headache of unknown origin.

If these arteries are very narrowed, an operation called endarterectomy may be required to remove the plaque. To prevent the formation of clots and thus reduce the risk of spills, medication can be administered and the narrowing is less severe. Another option for people who cannot undergo surgery is carotid angioplasty , which is nothing more than placing balloons and / or stents in the artery to open the artery and keep it open. Carotid artery disease increases your risk of stroke in three ways:

  • The buildup of a fatty substance called “plaque” can significantly narrow the carotid arteries.
  • A blood clot can get stuck in a plaque-narrowed carotid artery.
  • The plaque can detach from the carotid arteries and block a smaller artery in the brain ( cerebral artery ).


In most cases, doctors can detect the disease during a routine checkup. Among the diagnostic means used to detect this disease are:

  • Doppler ultrasound .
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).
  • Oculoplethysmography .
  • Digital subtraction arteriography and angiography (ASD).


The risk of having a stroke increases with age, and is more common in men than in women. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and one of the leading causes of disability in the elderly.

If a patient has carotid artery disease, it is likely that they also have severe coronary artery disease or that one of their parents has died of coronary artery disease . In other words, the risk factors for carotid artery disease are similar to those for coronary artery disease:

  • High levels of low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides in the blood.
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes .
  • Cigarette use ( smoking ).
  • Family history of coronary artery disease.
  • Obesity .
  • Sedentary lifestyle .

Modification of lifestyle

Treatment of carotid artery disease includes lifestyle modification for which it is suggested:

  • Give up smoking.
  • Control high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Investigate heart rhythm, especially atrial fibrillation.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Perform physical exercises daily.
  • Use less salt in food.
  • Consult a doctor immediately if symptoms of a stroke are observed.


Blood thinners may be needed to prevent a stroke. The aspirin and other blood thinners have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke. In most cases, patients have to take these medications for the rest of their lives.


by Abdullah Sam
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