You have two carotid arteries – one on either side of the neck. They supply blood to the large, front part of the brain, where thinking, speech, personality, sensory and motor functions are controlled. If you place your finger just below your jaw line, you can feel your pulse as blood is moving through the carotid artery.
Like other blood vessels in the body, plaque can build up in the carotid arteries and reduce blood flow to your brain. The narrowing in an artery is called stenosis, and raises your chances of a having a stroke.
Many people have no symptoms until they have a life-threatening stroke. Other times, people might experience:
If you have any of these symptoms of a stroke, call 911.
During a physical exam, your doctor may listen to your neck for a “whooshing” sound as blood flows through the artery. This indicates the carotid artery has narrowed. To further diagnose how severe the problem is, your doctor may order:
The primary treatment goal is to lower your risk of a stroke and may include: