Factors that increase your risk of carotid artery disease include:

  • High blood pressure. Excess pressure on artery walls can weaken them and make them more vulnerable to damage.
  • Tobacco use. Nicotine can irritate the inner lining of your arteries. Smoking also increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes lowers your ability to process fats efficiently, placing you at greater risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
  • High blood-fat levels. High levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides, a blood fat, encourage the accumulation of plaques.
  • Family history. Your risk of carotid artery disease is higher if a relative has atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease.
  • Age. Arteries become less flexible and more prone to injury with age.
  • Obesity. Excess weight increases your chances of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetes.
  • Sleep apnea. Spells of stopping breathing at night may increase your risk of stroke.
  • Lack of exercise. It contributes to conditions that damage your arteries, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
July 19, 2014