Carotid artery disease

Carotid artery disease occurs when the carotid arteries, the main blood vessels that carry blood to the brain, become narrowed. Typically this narrowing is a result of plaque build-up inside the arteries. If these arteries become narrow enough to block blood flow, a stroke may occur. 


Carotid artery disease may be asymptomatic or symptomatic. Symptoms of carotid artery disease may resemble other conditions, so a thorough exam and a series of tests may be required to diagnose the condition. 

Symptomatic carotid artery disease can result in a stroke, which is the sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain, or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a stroke-like event that lasts for a short period of time caused by a blocked blood vessel. Individuals who suffer a transient ischemic attack can have a full recovery.

Symptoms of a stroke or transient ischemic attack may include:

  • sudden weakness or clumsiness in the limbs
  • sudden paralysis on one side of the body
  • confusion, dizziness, fainting and/or headache
  • numbness or loss of sensation in the face
  • numbness or loss of sensation in the limbs
  • temporary loss of vision or blurred vision
  • inability to speak clearly


Treatment options for carotid artery disease are determined by the patient's age, overall health, medical history and extent of the disease. Treatments can include lifestyle changes to control risk factors, including regular exercise, proper nutrition and smoking cessation. Treatment also may include medication. For a small minority of patients, medical procedures such as angioplasty (non-surgical procedure for treating diseased arteries) or carotid endarterectomy (surgical removal of plaque or blood clots in an artery) may be necessary.

The UK Vascular Surgery team works together to offer patients the most up-to-date information on the latest diagnosis and treatment methods. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 1-800-333-8874 for an appointment.

Page last updated: 1/6/2016 4:20:26 PM