The carotid artery is responsible for supplying blood to the brain.

Carotid artery disease refers to the narrowing of the carotid arteries, most commonly from fatty deposits called plaque building up within the artery.

While most of these plaques remain asymptomatic, some may break, causing a small particle to dislodge, travel up an individual's bloodstream and into his or her brain.

This can block off a small branch within the brain and eventually result in a stroke.

There are several things that can increase your risk of carotid artery disease. They include:

  • Age (if you are older than 50 years old)
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Gender (if you are male)

This does not mean that if you are outside of these categories you are not at risk, but the group that meets these criteria is at a much higher risk of developing blockages in the artery than the average person.

If you are concerned that you may be at risk for developing blockages in your carotid artery, you should speak with your physician about the possibility of being screened to look for blockages in the carotid artery.