Carotid stenosis, also known as carotid artery disease, is the narrowing of the carotid arteries that supply blood from the heart to the brain. Carotid stenosis is a gradual process known as atherosclerosis and is brought about by accumulation of plaque within the artery walls, states Mayfield Clinic.
Plaque is a sticky matter comprised of calcium, cholesterol, fat and fibrous substances. The plaque builds up over time to form a large mass within the arteries that eventually narrows the lumen, cutting blood flow to the brain and increasing the risk of stroke, notes Mayfield Clinic. Plaque accumulation is also referred to as the hardening of the arteries and can develop as a result of smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or family history, states WebMD.