Take care of your health. Waist up of a sick aged man sitting at the table and suffering from a headache at home

Carotid Artery Disease

The carotid arteries are the main blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. Carotid artery disease happens when plaque builds up and narrows the arteries which can cause a blockage and lead to a TIA (mini stroke) or a full scale stroke.  If you are over age 50, or have a family history of carotid artery disease, your primary care provider will likely listen to your artery for any abnormal sounds that could indicate a blockage.


There are few symptoms for carotid artery disease; however you should seek immediate emergency care if you experience any of the following: 
  • New or intense headaches
  • Blindness in any part of the eye
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or loss of control of one side of your body


Risk factors for carotid artery disease include:
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Age 50+

There are a variety of non-invasive options available to screen for carotid artery disease. Treatment includes lifestyle changes, medications, and surgical options.  Our skilled team will work with you to determine the right treatment for symptoms, condition, and lifestyle.

Diagnosis, treatment and technologies

lifestyle adjustments and medications

Lifestyle changes may be the first plan of treatment if you have carotid artery disease. The goal of these adjustments is to lower your risk of stroke. Increasing your physical activity, eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, losing weight, and quitting smoking can all improve your health and lower your stroke risk. Medicines that can help this goal include: blood pressure medications, statins to lower cholesterol, and blood thinners or aspirin to prevent blood clots.

interventional and surgical treatments

A carotid endarterectomy may be appropriate for you if you have already had a TIA or stroke as a result of a carotid artery blockage. This is a procedure to remove the plaque causing the blockage. Carotid stenting can also be performed to prop open a narrowed artery with a stent.

What is your vascular health?

Anyone can experience vascular problems, but smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, age, obesity and heredity can lead to an increased risk. Problems with the vascular system can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack, stroke and limb loss. Routine vascular screenings can help in the early detection of these potentially serious problems. CMC's New England Heart & Vascular Institute offers extensive vascular screening services. Your physician will determine if you are at risk and would benefit from screening.

What to Expect at a Vascular Screening

  • Your appointment will last about 45 minutes
  • We’ll use ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm and Doppler imaging to assess the carotid arteries.The ankle-brachial index (ABI) screens for peripheral artery disease by measuring blood pressure in the arms and ankles.
  • Results will be mailed to you within a week of screening
Cost: $50. Call to schedule your vascular screening!


Vascular team

Our vascular physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and support staff bring extensive expertise and skill to each procedure, and take a personal interest in your well-being.

Our Locations