What is Carotid Stenosis and why should you care?

By: Derald Madson, MD

Your carotid arteries are a not a normal topic of conversation for most middle-aged Americans, but perhaps they should be!  

The carotid arteries are major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck, and face. There are two carotid arteries, one on the right and one on the left. Obviously, anything that impacts this major pathway for blood to the brain is very important to monitor and keep working well. 

What is Carotid Stenosis?

Carotid Stenosis, simply put, is a narrowing of these blood vessels in the neck that carry the blood from the heart to the brain.

Carotid Stenosis can be caused by: 

  • Cholesterol build up in the carotid artery (atherosclerosis) 
  • Blood clots 
  • Hardening of the artery (stenosis) 


What health issues contribute to Carotid Stenosis?  

The primary risk factors that may contribute to someone developing Carotid Stenosis include: 

  • High cholesterol 
  • Smoking 
  • Diabetes 
  • Obesity 
  • Family history 
  • Age 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Lack of exercise 

What are some symptoms of Carotid Stenosis? 

Symptoms may not appear until the artery becomes severely blocked or narrowed. This is why it’s important to check the condition of your carotid arteries on a regular timeframe as you get older, especially if you have health conditions that put you at greater risk for the condition. 

The primary concern of undiagnosed Carotid Stenosis is increased risk of transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini stroke. This can include weakness or numbness in arm or leg, difficulty speaking, facial droop, vision problems and paralysis. If you or a loved one have any symptoms of stroke, call 911 or go directly to the ER. 

How is Carotid Stenosis treated? 

Treatment will depend on severity of each individual person’s diagnosis. Always make sure you are treated by a board-certified Vascular Surgeon that can offer you many forms of treatments to find the one that is right for your condition. Treatment may include: 

  • Self-care through diet, exercise, quitting tobacco, controlling diabetes and weight loss 
  • Medications to control blood pressure or lower cholesterol 
  • Carotid Endarterectomy: surgical removal of the plaque 

Next steps 

As a vascular surgeon, I genuinely enjoy diagnosing and treating Carotid Stenosis. Being able to see the benefits for my patients and improve the quality of their life are very rewarding. Treatment of Carotid Stenosis can mitigate having a major stroke or permanent brain injury.   

Thankfully for Sumner County, this life-saving treatment is available close-to-home. The facilities at Sumner Regional Medical Center allow me to provide my patients with the foremost in surgical treatment for carotid stenosis.  

If you have any questions about your vascular health, including Carotid Stenosis, please give my office a call.



Derald Madson, MD

Dr. Derald Madson is a physician with HighPoint Vascular & Vein Associates. For more information, please call 615-328-3480 or visit online: HighPoint Vascular & Vein Associates