What Are the Symptoms of a Clogged Carotid Artery?

The blood vessels that lie on either side of your neck and carry blood from your heart to your brain are called the carotid arteries. If your arteries become clogged by the buildup of fatty plaques (atherosclerosis) along the walls of these vessels, you may be diagnosed with a condition called carotid artery occlusive disease. The symptoms of a clogged carotid artery mimic those of a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke), but these symptoms do not develop in all patients. Speak with your doctor as soon as possible if you develop any of the symptoms of a clogged carotid artery.


If you have a clogged carotid artery, oxygen and nutrients within your blood may be unable to reach your brain. Poor blood supply to the brain can prevent the transmission of nerve signals to other regions of your body, such as your organs or muscles. The temporary loss of nerve-signaling in the body due to a clogged carotid artery can cause you to experience sensations of weakness or numbness in your limbs or face. Typically, these symptoms arise on only one side of your body and can last for several minutes or hours. Muscle weakness or numbness that develops due to a clogged carotid artery can be dangerous, especially if these symptoms occur while you are driving or participating in a potentially hazardous activity.

Slurred Speech

Decreased blood flow to the brain caused by blocked carotid arteries can affect your patterns of speech. You can find it difficult to say or recall certain words while conversing with others. Your speech can also become slurred or you may be unable to speak at all, making it difficult for you to explain your symptoms. These speech symptoms may occur briefly, but can last up to 24 hours, say health educators at SUNY Upstate Medical University Health Care Center in Syracuse, New York.

Decreased Motor Coordination

When your brain does not receive a sufficient supply of blood due to a clogged carotid artery, you can develop changes in your motor coordination. Your brain may not have enough energy to keep up with your movements, leading to symptoms that include difficulty walking or moving your limbs. You can experience decreased motor coordination throughout your body, but symptoms typically arise on only one side of the body, say health professionals at PDR Health, a website from the publishers of the Physician's Desk Reference. These symptoms often occur in conjunction with muscle weakness or numbness.

Vision Loss

Blurred or cloudy vision can be a symptom of a clogged carotid artery. You may also experience temporary blindness in one or both eyes due to poor blood supply to the brain. These symptoms can significantly alter your ability to care for yourself or complete your usual daily activities.

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