Carotid artery disease causes about 10 to 20 percent of strokes. Stroke is a medical emergency that can leave you with permanent brain damage and muscle weakness. In severe cases, stroke can be fatal.

Carotid artery disease can lead to stroke through:

  • Reduced blood flow. A carotid artery may become so narrowed by atherosclerosis that not enough blood is able to reach portions of your brain.
  • Ruptured plaques. A piece of a plaque may break off and flow to smaller arteries in your brain. The plaque fragment may get stuck in one of these smaller arteries, creating a blockage that cuts off blood supply to part of your brain.
  • Blood clot blockage. Some plaques are prone to cracking and forming irregular surfaces on the artery wall. Your body reacts as if to an injury and sends blood cells that help the clotting process to the area. The result can be a large clot that blocks or slows blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.
July 19, 2014