Renal artery stenosis is a serious condition that can cause life-threatening complications if left untreated. It’s characterized by the narrowing of the renal arteries that carry oxygenated blood to the kidney.
Narrowing of the renal arteries restricts blood flow to the kidneys, which, in turn, affects kidney function. In the long run, it can lead to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. Also, it can result in other complications, such as edema and hypertension.
Renal artery stenosis may not present any symptoms until it’s progressed to an advanced stage. That makes it crucial to diagnose and treat renal artery stenosis early on.
In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the most common cause of renal artery stenosis and its symptoms. Let’s get started.
What Causes Renal Artery Stenosis?
The most common cause of renal artery stenosis is atherosclerosis. It’s a condition in which the arteries become narrow due to plaque buildup on the walls. A majority of renal artery stenosis cases are the result of atherosclerosis.
A less common cause of the disease is fibromuscular dysplasia. In this condition, the renal arteries have abnormal cell growth, causing them to become narrow in certain parts. It gives the arteries a bead-like appearance and reduces blood flow to the kidney.
Fibromuscular dysplasia often develops in childhood. It’s more common in women and people who develop renal artery stenosis at a young age.
It’s worth noting that some people might be predisposed to renal artery stenosis due to their lifestyle and genetics. Common risk factors include:
- A family history of cardiovascular diseases
- Pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and obesity
Symptoms of Renal Artery Stenosis
By now, you must be wondering what is the most common symptom of renal artery stenosis? Unfortunately, many patients don’t develop any noticeable symptoms until the disease has already progressed. In most cases, doctors detect the condition while diagnosing or treating other ailments.
One of the first symptoms patients experience is impaired kidney function. It can result in elevated protein levels in the urine, fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, and muscle cramps.
Additionally, if you have a family history of heart disease, it’s crucial to watch out for the following symptoms of renal artery stenosis:
- Swelling in the ankles and legs due to fluid buildup
- Sudden or unexplained high blood pressure that’s difficult to control
- Treatment-resistant heart failure
Diagnosis and Treatment of Renal Artery Stenosis
If you’ve been experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, you might want to know who treats renal artery stenosis and how.
The first step is to diagnose the condition and its root cause. Typically, your doctor will use a stethoscope to detect any whooshing sound near the kidneys. It’s a tell-tale sign of renal artery stenosis.
Also, they’ll order a series of blood and urine tests (commonly known as kidney function tests). A renal artery specialist might also use imaging scans, such as CTA and MRA, to take a closer look at your kidney and excretory system.
Your doctor will also likely ask you to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine and avoid smoking.
In severe cases, when the condition doesn’t improve with medications and lifestyle changes, surgery is the only treatment option. Surgery for renal artery stenosis includes angioplasty and renal artery bypass.
It’s a good idea to consult a renal artery specialist to identify the best course of treatment for renal artery stenosis. If you’re think you’re at risk of developing the disease due to a pre-existing heart condition, feel free to reach out to Dr. C Raghu, one of India’s leading cardiologists.