Blocked blood flow may lead to kidney damage

Stenosis refers to narrowing of the arteries due to buildup of plaque, consisting of cholesterol, calcium and other deposits. Renal artery stenosis (RAS) is a narrowing of the arteries (and therefore restricted blood flow) to the kidneys from the aorta of the heart. The condition may also be caused by fibromuscular dysplasia, which involves abnormal cell growth on the renal arterial walls, thus affecting blood flow as well.

The decreased blood flow can send a false signal to the body to increase blood flow, which may cause too much pressure or renovascular hypertension. Blood flow also affects the kidneys’ abilities to flush out toxins and waste from the body. If renal artery stenosis is left unchecked, the condition may lead to kidney damage and failure.

Diagnosing renal artery stenosis

Renal artery stenosis may not cause symptoms until the condition has progressed significantly. It is usually detected during testing for other conditions. Your doctor may order an angiogram, arteriogram, ultrasound or other type of imaging technology that allows closer examination of the renal arteries. Lab studies may also be prescribed, to determine how well or poorly your kidneys are functioning.

If diagnosed with renal artery stenosis, your treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. Sometimes medication and changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle, are enough to improve the condition. In other cases, surgery such as angioplasty, to open blocked arteries, or endarterectomy, to remove blockages in arteries, may be recommended.
If you have concerns about hypertension, atherosclerosis, kidney disease or related conditions, be sure to talk to your physician about renal artery stenosis.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.