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Are You At Risk for Carotid Artery Disease?

Certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for carotid artery disease. These conditions are known as risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to get the disease. You can control some, but not all, risk factors.

The major risk factors for carotid artery disease, listed below, also are the major risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart disease.

Having any of these risk factors doesn't mean that you will get carotid artery disease. However, if you have one or more risk factors, you can take steps to help prevent the disease.

Steps include following a healthy lifestyle and taking any medicines your doctor prescribes. (For more information, see "How Can Carotid Artery Disease Be Prevented?" below)

The amount of plaque buildup in the carotid arteries also may suggest plaque buildup in other arteries. Doctors can predict the degree of atherosclerosis in other arteries based on the thickness of the carotid arteries. Thus, people who have carotid artery disease also are more likely to have CAD.

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How Can Carotid Artery Disease Be Prevented?

Taking action to control your risk factors can help prevent or delay carotid artery disease and stroke. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to get carotid artery disease.

Making lifestyle changes and taking prescribed medicines are important steps. For information on healthy eating plans, physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and medicines.

Know your family history of health problems related to carotid artery disease. If you or someone in your family has this disease, be sure to tell your doctor. Also, let your doctor know if you smoke.


NHLBI