• Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease

    Renal (kidney) artery disease (RAS) is one way that cardiovascular disease affects the cardiovascular system—the system that distributes blood throughout your body.Other names RAS When fatty deposits called plaque buildup in the arteries that supply blood throughout the body, it is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can eventually narrow and block the arteries, restricting or blocking the flow of the blood. When atherosclerosis clogs up the arteries leading to the kidneys (the renal arteries), it causes RAS.

    The kidneys are vital organs that filter the blood of certain toxins and ensure a proper balance of fluid leaving the body as urine.  The kidneys also secrete important hormones that regulate many vital functions, including blood pressure. If RAS is not discovered in time, it can damage your kidneys and how they function. Also, the high blood pressure that results from RAS can affect other arteries and put you at greater risk for having a heart attack and stroke

    Two of the biggest risk factors for RAS are high blood pressure and an earlier diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. About 5 percent of all patients with high blood pressure have blockages in the renal arteries, and 30 percent or more of patients who have blockages in other arteries also have blockages in their kidney arteries. 

    As with all forms of cardiovascular disease, you can do a lot to reduce your risk if you quit smoking, eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise. But sometimes that’s not enough. So talk to your doctor, too. Download “Questions to Ask Your Doctor about RAS” and take it with you to your next appointment.

    You’ll also find a more detailed explanation of these topics in each of the following sections on this site:

    • Symptoms. Many people with RAS do not have symptoms but regular visits with your doctor will help to monitor your blood pressure and other risk factors, such as age, history of other forms of cardiovascular disease, and smoking to name just a few. Learn more… 
    • Causes. RAS is caused by atherosclerosis, which is also known as “hardening of the arteries.” It is the same disease process that causes heart attacks and strokes. Learn more…
    • Diagnosis—RAS diagnosis begins with a physical exam, a review of your medical history, and blood tests. If you have high blood pressure that does not respond to medication as well as other risk factors for RAS your doctor may recommend more testing to find possible blockages in the arteries. Learn more…
    • Treatment. If you have RAS, your doctor and other members of your care team will work with you to develop a treatment plan to restore blood flow from the renal arteries to your kidneys, reduce the risk of damage to the kidneys, and control your blood pressure. Learn more… 
    • Lifestyle. Caring for yourself by taking any prescribed medication to control high pressure, eating a heart healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, and finding ways to reduce stress will lower your risk for all forms of cardiovascular disease, including RAS. Learn more…
    • Resources and Support. Don’t try to manage RAS on your own. Ask for help and support from your doctor, community programs, family, and friends. Online resources and support can also be helpful. Learn more…

    Don’t wait to learn more about RAS if you or someone you love is at risk. Blockages to the kidney are an important concern, especially for patients who have high blood pressure, heart failure, and other conditions that can put stress on the kidneys. 

  • More on Renal (Kidney) Artery Stenosis (RAS)

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    Causes of Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease

    The renal arteries supply blood to the kidneys. They branch from the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the lower body. Before reaching the kidneys, each renal (kidney) artery divides into four or five branches. Renal (kidney) artery disease (RAS) occurs when blood flow to one or both kidneys is restricted or blocked as a result of atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries. When blood flow to the kidneys is restricted or blocked by atherosclerosis in the renal arteries, the kidneys are deprived of the nutrients and oxygen they need to function.

    Lifestyle Changes  for Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease

    Your doctor will recommend that you modify your lifestyle – stop smoking if you haven’t already, begin eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly to achieve your ideal body weight. Follow the links in this section for tools and more information on living a heart-healthy lifestyle.

    Questions to Ask Your Doctor about RAS

    The following questions can help you talk to your physician about your individual risk for renal (kidney) artery disease (RAS). Print out or write down these questions and take them with you to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.

    Resources on and Support for those with Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease

    Here is a list of some important resources on the subject of Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease.

    Symptoms of Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease

    You can have renal (kidney) artery disease (RAS) without having any symptoms, so it is very important to be aware of the risk factors that can cause RAS. Based on your medical history, physical exam, blood test, and other factors you and your doctor may decide that you should be tested for RAS.

    Treatment of Renal (Kidney) Artery Disease

    Without treatment, renal (kidney) artery disease (RAS) may cause high blood pressure and eventually lead to kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, they can no longer filter the blood and rid the body of waste products. And, to survive you will need a kidney transplant or regular medical visits for kidney dialysis—so a machine can filter your blood for you.