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Diagnosing Renal Artery Stenosis


Your renal artery supplies oxygen-rich blood to the kidneys. Renal artery stenosis happens when the renal arteries narrow and stiffen, reducing blood flow to the kidneys. This can reduce kidney function and lead to high blood pressure.

Many people live for years with renal artery stenosis without knowing it because they don’t experience any symptoms. But if your doctor notices renal artery stenosis symptoms during an exam or diagnostic test for another vascular condition, it’s a good idea to get specialized care from an expert cardiologist at Dignity Health.

Find a Doctor to get testing and treatment for renal artery stenosis in the Bay Area. 

Renal Artery Stenosis Symptoms

Renal artery stenosis can be an underlying cause of high blood pressure. It’s more likely the case if you have high blood pressure that:

  • Has significantly increased
  • First develops after age 50
  • Doesn’t run in your family
  • Doesn’t respond to treatment with typical high blood pressure medications

If the condition continues untreated for a long period of time, it can decrease kidney function. This leads to symptoms of kidney failure, including increased or decreased urination, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, and a number of other symptoms. 

What Causes Renal Artery Stenosis?

Renal artery stenosis and coronary artery disease have the same cause: sticky, waxy plaques that build up in the walls of arteries, causing the tissue to become stiff and narrowing the opening of the arteries (lumen). Together, this makes it difficult for blood to pass through the arteries to the kidneys.

Rarely, renal artery stenosis also can be caused by fibromuscular dysplasia, which causes cells in the walls of the renal arteries to grow abnormally and narrows the lumen of the artery.

Renal Artery Stenosis Treatment at Dignity Health

Renal artery stenosis treatment aims to slow progression of the disease, lower blood pressure, and reduce or eliminate blockage of the renal arteries. Your doctor may use a combination of therapies to treat the condition and prevent permanent kidney damage.

Living a heart-healthy lifestyle and promptly treating heart disease both help reduce your risk of developing renal artery stenosis. Dignity Health doctors offer personalized renal artery stenosis treatments and will work with you to develop a manageable plan to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Take our online heart heart risk assessment, and talk to your doctor about any questions.

Dignity Health offers personal care for renal artery stenosis in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.