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
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • 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.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy