Carotid Artery Disease: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 2/18/2020

Carotid artery disease refers to atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup, in the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are in the neck and carry oxygen to the face, neck, brain, and head. Carotid artery disease itself can cause transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) or stroke if oxygen supply is reduced to the brain.

Carotid artery disease may not produce signs and symptoms until it causes damage such as stroke. Then, symptoms and signs can include those of a stroke such as

  • weakness on one side of the body,
  • temporary or permanent vision loss in one eye,
  • speech problems, or
  • an inability to move facial muscles on one side.

Causes of carotid artery disease

Atherosclerosis is the main cause of carotid artery disease. Risk factors for the condition include smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Other carotid artery disease symptoms and signs

  • An Inability to Move Facial Muscles on One Side
  • Speech Problems
  • Temporary or Permanent Vision Loss in One Eye
  • Weakness on One Side of the Body


In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease. See Answer

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.