Vascular Diseases: Carotid Artery Disease/Subclavian Steal Syndrome

Carotid Artery Disease/Subclavian Steal Syndrome [Stroke]

Carotid Artery Disease - There are two carotid arteries in the neck, one on either side, which supply blood flow to the brain. These main branches are called the common carotid artery. They divide into the internal and external carotid arteries. The external carotid artery supplies blood flow to the face and scalp. The internal carotid artery supplies blood flow to the front of the brain which controls speech, personality, thinking, sensory (what you feel), and motor function (your movements). A disease free carotid artery is smooth which allows blood to flow through it freely. A diseased carotid artery is narrowed or blocked by atherosclerosis; a build up of plaque or "hardening or the arteries". Plaque build up can severely narrow the carotid artery. A piece of plaque can break off from the carotid artery and block smaller arteries in the brain. If a clot or plaque blocks blood flow to the brain it can cause a Cerebral Vascular Accident/Stroke (CVA), transient ischemic attack (TIA) and lead to brain damage or death.

Subclavian Steal Syndrome - Subclavian Steal Syndrome is a blockage of the subclavian artery which sits under the collarbone. It delivers blood to the arm and brain. The blockage causes the blood to flow in reverse. The arm "steals" blood flow from the blood which was intended for the posterior (back side) of the brain.


Signs & Symptoms

Slurred speech or difficulty talking or understanding words

Numbness or weakness of the face or body, usually effecting one side of the body

Inability to move your limbs

Visual problems; difficulty seeing in one or both eyes

Loss of balance

Severe headache which has a sudden onset dizziness


Drop Attacks (a sudden spontaneous falling to the ground from a standing position, not usually associated with a loss of consciousness)


Physician's Examination infoA health care provider investigates the body of a patient for signs of disease. It generally follows the taking of the medical history - an account of the symptoms as experienced by the patient. Together with the medical history, the physical examination aids in determining the correct diagnosis and devising the treatment plan. This data then becomes part of the medical record.

Carotid Artery Ultrasound infoA diagnostic medical imaging technique used to visualize the size, structure and any pathological imperfections of the Carotid Artery using real time tomographic images..

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRA)  infoMagnetic Resonance Angiogram is a minimally invasive test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical problems. MRA uses magnetic field and radio waves to take pictures of the major blood vessels throughout the body. Sometimes contrast material is used to enhance the blood vessels. Both blood flow and the condition of the blood vessel wall can be seen.

Carotid Artery Angiogram infoAn angiogram performed on the Carotid Artery.

Computed Tomographic Angiography (CTA) infoComputerized tomographic angiography is a minimally invasive test which combines a CT scan (X-rays and computerized images) and angiography to show detailed images of the blood vessels in the body.

Angiography infoAn X-Ray study of the arteries. An IV dye (Contrast) is used to enhance the arteries so that they can be seen under X-ray imaging.

Scroll over info for keyword definitions


Stop smoking

Control high blood pressure

Keep your Diabetes under control

Lower your cholesterol blood level

Angiography with angioplasty/stent

Carotid Endarterectomy Surgery