The renal arteries are the vessels that carry blood to your kidneys. Renal artery stenosis occurs when one or both of these arteries are narrowed or blocked, which prevents the normal amount of oxygen-rich blood from being delivered to the kidneys. Your kidneys need adequate blood flow in order to filter out waste products and remove excess fluids from the body. When blood flow is reduced, this may increase the blood pressure of the whole body and result in injury to the tissues of the kidney. This can often be a silent killer, but without diagnosis the elevated blood pressure can cause numerous medical problems such as stroke, cardiac problems, aneurysms, and aortic dissections.
Why Do I Have Renal Artery Stenosis?
Arteries are generally smooth and unobstructed on the outside, but as someone ages they are at an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. As plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries, they narrow and stiffen. Over time, these blockages cause decreased blood flow to the area they are meant to supply blood. In this instance, the renal arteries.
There are many factors that can contribute to putting someone at risk of developing renal artery stenosis:
- Fibromuscular dysplasia
- Female gender
- Injury, surgery, or infection
- Inflammatory diseases
- Tumors or aneurysms
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Obesity or physical inactivity
- Smoking or use of tobacco products
- History of heart disease