Kidney (or renal) artery disease is one way that cardiovascular disease affects the cardiovascular system—the system your body used to distribute blood throughout your body. When fatty deposits called plaque build up 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 kidney artery disease, which is also known as renal artery stenosis (RAS), renovascular disease, renovascular hypertension and ischemic nephropathy.
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 kidney artery disease is not discovered in time, it can damage your kidneys and how they function. Also, the high blood pressure that results from kidney artery disease can affect other arteries in your body and can put you at greater risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
Two of the biggest risk factors for kidney artery disease 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.
Take Care of Yourself, and Talk with Your Doctor
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 get regular exercise. But sometimes that’s not enough. So talk to your doctor, too, and download our handy tool with Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Kidney (Renal) Artery Disease. Take it with you to your next doctor appointment.
Don’t wait to learn more about kidney artery disease 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. In addition to talking with your healthcare team, you can learn more in the SecondsCount Kidney (Renal) Artery Disease and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) condition centers.