How can you tell if your carotid artery is blocked?

Carotid artery plays an important role in our body, being responsible for the supply of blood from our heart to the brain. When this artery is blocked, it can lead to serious consequences. Knowing how to tell if your carotid artery is blocked can help you take prompt action to prevent any potential damage. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about carotid artery blockage, how to identify its symptoms, and the best treatment options available.

What is Carotid Artery Blockage?

The carotid artery can become blocked due to a harmful process known as atherosclerosis, which happens when a plaque buildup develops on the artery walls. This plaque accumulation can cause the artery’s narrowing, leading to reduced blood flow to the brain. In some cases, it may even cause a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

What are the Symptoms of Carotid Artery Blockage?

Carotid artery blockage symptoms can range from mild to severe, and it often depends on the extent of the blockage. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Unilateral weakness on the face, arm, or leg
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Severe headache

How is Carotid Artery Blockage Diagnosed?

There are several ways to diagnose carotid artery blockage. The doctor may recommend a physical exam, including checking your blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate. They may also suggest an ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan to get a clearer view of the blood flow in the artery. In some cases, an angiogram may be recommended to examine the artery’s inner lining before treatment.

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Carotid Artery Blockage?

Several factors can increase your risk of developing carotid artery blockages, including:

  • High cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Family history of heart disease or stroke
  • Obesity

How to Prevent Carotid Artery Blockage?

Preventing carotid artery blockage is possible by changing your lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and managing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help prevent plaque buildup in the artery walls, while quitting smoking can help stop the progression of carotid artery disease.

What are the Treatment Options for Carotid Artery Blockage?

Several treatment options can help manage carotid artery blockage, depending on the extent of the blockage and your overall health condition. Some of these options include:

  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Carotid angioplasty and stenting
  • Blood thinners (anticoagulant and antiplatelet medication)
  • Lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes and exercise

Carotid endarterectomy

Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the surgical removal of plaque built upon the carotid artery wall. This procedure is recommended for people with severe blockage or those who have already experienced a TIA or a stroke.

Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting

Angioplasty and stenting involve the use of a balloon-like device to open up the narrowed artery and place a small mesh stent to keep it open. This procedure is less invasive than endarterectomy and is usually recommended for people who are not suitable for surgery.

Blood Thinners

Blood thinners are medications that can help prevent blood clots from forming and reduce the risk of stroke or TIA. Please note that taking blood thinners can increase the risk of bleeding, so their use should always be discussed with your doctor.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications are always recommended for people with carotid artery blockage or those at high risk of developing it. This includes eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and regular exercise, which can help lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.


Carotid artery blockage can lead to severe debilitating conditions if not managed promptly. Being aware of its symptoms and risk factors can help you take preventive measures and secure an early diagnosis. If you or someone you know experiences any symptoms of carotid artery blockage, do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention.

Common Questions and answers

  • What is carotid artery stenosis?

    Carotid artery stenosis refers to the narrowing of the carotid artery due to the build-up of plaque.

  • What causes carotid artery blockages?

    Carotid artery blockages are caused by plaque accumulation on the artery wall that narrows the artery and restricts blood flow to the brain.

  • Can carotid artery blockage be prevented?

    Carotid artery blockages can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking, and blood pressure and cholesterol control.

  • What are the warning signs of carotid artery disease?

    The warning signs of carotid artery disease can include slurred speech, confusion, unilateral weakness, blurry vision, and severe headache.

  • Can carotid artery disease be treated?

    Carotid artery disease can be treated with surgical procedures, such as carotid endarterectomy or less invasive procedures, such as angioplasty and stenting, and blood thinners.


1. American Heart Association. (2021). Carotid Artery Disease. Retrieved from

2. Mayo Clinic. (2019). Carotid artery disease. Retrieved from

3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2021). Carotid Artery Disease. Retrieved from