What are the risk factors for carotid artery disease?
The risk factors that have been linked to the development of atherosclerosis include:
- Family history of atherosclerosis (either carotid artery disease or coronary artery disease or elsewhere in the vascular system)
- Age: In general, the risk of atherosclerosis increases as we age, and in particular, men under age 75 have a greater risk of developing carotid artery disease than women, but after age 75, women have a greater risk than men
- High levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol) and triglycerides in the blood. However, this link is not as strong as it is for coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Sedentary lifestyle
Typically, the carotid arteries become diseased a few years later than the coronary arteries. People who have coronary artery disease, and atherosclerosis elsewhere (such as peripheral artery disease or PAD) have a higher risk of developing carotid artery disease.