Without treatment, kidney (renal) artery disease 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.
Fortunately, treatment options are available to help prevent or slow the development of kidney artery disease. Your doctor will consider the full spectrum of options in deciding what is best for you. The earlier RAS is diagnosed and the sooner treatment begins, the better your prospects for slowing its progress and avoiding high blood pressure and kidney failure.
Spectrum of Care
The type of treatment you receive for kidney artery disease, as with cardiovascular disease in general, depends on your personal circumstances, the extent of disability and risk, and the nature of the problem.
If you have blockages in your arteries, your doctor will assess the severity of your cardiovascular disease and where you best fit among a range of treatment options. This range of options is sometimes referred to as the spectrum of care. The spectrum of care options for cardiovascular disease consist of a combination of treatments including
- Lifestyle changes
- Revascularization, or treatment to re-establish blood flow through a narrowed artery.
Options for revascularization include:
- Angioplasty and stenting and other interventional procedures
- Bypass surgery
Some patients may be at the beginning stages of cardiovascular disease. In this case, changing lifestyle elements such as diet and exercise might be enough to get you back on track for good health. For other patients, medication in addition to lifestyle changes can slow or reverse the progress of cardiovascular disease. For patients with more advanced disease, revascularization, in addition to medication and lifestyle changes, may be necessary.
If you have an interventional cardiologist on your care team, he or she will work in conjunction with other healthcare providers to determine which treatment options are likely to benefit you most. These treatment decisions are based on your team’s education and experience, and on practice guidelines (the standards developed by leading experts in the field of cardiovascular medicine to guide the profession). These frequently updated guidelines are drafted after careful review of all the peer-reviewed information and data available.
Throughout the decision-making process, you, the patient, also a core member of the care team. You can help your care team determine which treatment options make the most sense for you based on your desired quality of life. Participating in your own care starts with something as simple as writing down questions you may have about the procedure and bringing that list to your next appointment. Your interventional cardiologist can work with you to find a truly individualized treatment.
To learn more about the treatment options for kidney artery disease, check out these pages: