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Heart Health Center

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Human Anatomy

carotid artery

Picture of the Carotid Artery

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© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

The carotid arteries are major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck, and face. There are two carotid arteries, one on the right and one on the left. In the neck, each carotid artery branches into two divisions:

  • The internal carotid artery supplies blood to the brain.
  • The external carotid artery supplies blood to the face and neck.

Like all arteries, the carotid arteries are made of three layers of tissue:

  • Intima, the smooth innermost layer
  • Media, the muscular middle layer
  • Adventitia, the outer layer

The carotid sinus, or carotid bulb, is a widening of a carotid artery at its main branch point. The carotid sinus contains sensors that help regulate blood pressure. The carotid artery pulse can normally be felt in the neck by pressing the fingertips against the side of the windpipe, or trachea.

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