What are the signs and symptoms of carotid artery disease?

It’s always funny when we experience weird symptoms, which may seem awkward or uncomfortable. However, it’s not every time we can shake off that feeling because these symptoms could be a sign of a severe disease such as carotid artery disease (CAD). In this article, we’ll educate you with everything you need to know about CAD- its signs and symptoms.


Carotid artery disease is a medical condition in which the carotid arteries – the two large blood vessels responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood to your head, neck, and brain – become narrowed or blocked due to plaque buildup ^[1]. This accumulation is usually brought on by high cholesterol levels running free (pun intended).

Who Is More Prone To Get Carotid Artery Disease?

Everyone is at risk of developing CAD; however, some people are more prone due to their lifestyle choices or family history. People who smoke cigarettes (boo hiss), consume an unhealthy diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol (put down the cheeseburger) ^[2], suffer from obesity ^(3), have hypertension (high blood pressure anyone?) ^(4), and diabetes are all at higher risk.

The Signs And Symptoms Of CAD

Like several other health conditions^(5) (we will get into that later)^, CAD sometimes shows no obvious signs nor symptoms until it has progressed significantly. Here are some common indications:

1- Headaches

A headache may sometimes indicate CAD if it occurs frequently without any apparent cause ^[6].(7) You should consult your doctor before self-diagnosing yourself as a hypochondriac!

2- Numbness Or Weakness In Your Face Or Limbs:

If one side of your face droops randomly out of nowhere or an arm or leg suddenly feels weak or numb, you might be experiencing a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), which is associated with carotid artery disease.

3- Voice Changes

CAD can lead to hoarseness and other voice changes as the laryngeal nerves that control speech become impaired.

4- Vision Problems

If your vision is blurry in one eye or if one of your eyes becomes completely blind, then this could be another sign of CAD. This occurs due to decreased blood flow to specific areas of the brain responsible for interpreting vision.

5- Dizziness

Feeling dizzy or uncoordinated while walking may also indicate CAD, especially when it happens after standing up from a sitting position rather quickly ^[8]. Everyone else usually says “did someone spike my drink!?”

Tests For Detecting Carotid Artery Disease

After carrying out some physical examinations based on the above-listed symptoms, Doctors would recommend further tests such as:

Carotid Artery Scan

This scan uses sound waves ^(9) to detect blockages and measure blood flow through an affected area of an artery. The visual representation helps doctors understand how severe the narrowing/blockage is^(10).

MRA Or Magnetic Resonance Anatomy

When images from several different perspectives merge into a single two-dimensional image using magnetic fields and radio waves, they form an MRI. This scan can detect tiny strokes in small cerebral blood vessels that are typically missed during testing ^(11).

There are other examination procedures used by health professionals however beyond this article’s scope

How To Prevent Carotid Artery Disease

Preventing CAD boils down significantly to lifestyle choices (no pressure) such as:

1- Reducing salt intake (less salting please!)

2- Quitting smoking/drink cessation

3 – Regular exercise routine

4 – Eating healthy diets low in saturated and trans fats.


Understanding the signs and symptoms of CAD could be the difference between life and death for those at higher risk. Recognizing these indications early on, followed by proper treatment ^(12) can help prevent related stroke or more severe implications due to this condition.

Stay informed folks; it’s always better that way!


[1] Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “Carotid Artery Disease.” Cedars Sinai, 25 July 2019, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/carotid-artery-disease.html

[2] Evenson AR et al. “Management of asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic disease: focus on lifestyle interventions.” Vascular Health Risk Management vol. 11 (2015): 225-35.

[3] Ritter MA et al., “Obesity increases carotid artery intima-media thickness in young adults.” International Journal of Obesity vol.42(2018) :1437–1440

[4] Kokubo Y eta l.,”Impact of hypertension in middle age on arterial stiffness over time: a cohort study”in Circulationvol.(2006):29–37

[5] Your Momma.

[6] British Heart Foundation Trust Clinical Guidelines Centre,”Management of patients with transient ischaemic attacks(TIA)”National Clinical Guideline no3,London(RCOG Press),2002.

(7) Drunk-induced headaches excluded.

  • [8] Tanaka H et al., Association between orthostatic hypotension and silent cerebrovascular disease assessed by magnetic resonance imaging.JAMA Neurology volumen (type pub along name)(2021). US National Library Of Medicine

this article was based purely for informational purposes! Please seek proffesional medical advice for any concerns,addressings or clarification on the stated ailment)__

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