The carotid arteries are located on each side of the neck and they supply your brain with oxygenated blood. The vertebral arteries are located in the back of your neck, and they too, supply oxygenated blood flow to your brain. Over time the carotid arteries can narrow, due to plaque formation, which may reduce the blood flow to the brain with potential break-up of plaque, resulting in small fragments of plaque to travel towards the brain, which can cause stroke and TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks). Your arteries are normally smooth and unobstructed on the inside. However, as you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. Plaque is made of cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue. As more plaque builds up, your arteries narrow and stiffen. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Carotid artery disease is a serious health condition, because it is the leading source for stroke. Some of the risk factors that can be associated with the progression of atherosclerosis are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Unfortunately, the first sign of carotid artery disease could be a stroke. However, you may experience warning symptoms of a stoke called transient ischemic attacks or TIAs. These symptoms usually last for a few minutes to an hour. These symptoms may include a feeling of weakness or numbness (usually affected on one side of the body), slurred or gargled speech, or a vision loss or defect, usually affecting only one eye.