The carotid arteries provide the main blood supply to the brain. They are located on each side of the neck under the jaw line. Carotid artery disease is a condition in which these arteries become narrowed or blocked. This narrowing or blockage occurs when sticky, fatty substances called plaque build up in the inner lining of the arteries.

Diagnosis and Treatment of CIMT

The plaque may slowly block or narrow the carotid artery or cause a clot to form. Clots can lead to stroke.

Risk factors for blockage or narrowing of the arteries include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • High cholesterol

  • Heavy alcohol use

  • Kidney disease, especially when dialysis is needed

  • Cocaine abuse

  • Family history of stroke

  • Increasing age

  • Smoking

Two uncommon conditions, Marfan syndrome and fibromuscular dysplasia (abnormal growth or development of the cells in the walls of carotid arteries), may also cause narrowing of the carotid arteries.


Individuals may not have any symptoms, or they may have symptoms of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Some of these symptoms include:

  • Weakness in one part of the body

  • Blurred vision

  • Confusion

  • Loss of memory

  • Problems with speech and language

  • Loss of sensation


  • Testing the carotid arteries every year

  • Medicine and diet to lower cholesterol and control blood pressure

  • Blood-thinning medicines to lower the risk of stroke

Surgery, called carotid endarterectomy, to remove the buildup in the carotid arteries may help prevent new strokes from occurring in persons with large blockages in their neck arteries.

Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and vascular services at a Texas Health hospital near you.

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