You can have kidney (renal) artery disease (also known as renal artery stenosis, or RAS) without having any symptoms. This is one reason that it is very important to be aware of the risk factors that can cause kidney artery disease. Based on your medical history, physical exam, blood tests and other factors related to your health, you and your doctor may decide that you should be tested for kidney artery disease.
High Blood Pressure
In some cases, high blood pressure is a symptom of kidney artery disease. About 5 percent of all patients with high blood pressure have blockages in the kidneys. One way to diagnose kidney artery disease is to see how the patient responds to medications that treat high blood pressure. If you have kidney artery disease, then you may take one or medications for high blood pressure and still have high blood pressure. Until blood flow is restored to the kidney, it will continue to release renin, a hormone that increases blood pressure to preserve.
Blockages in Other Arteries
Sometimes kidney artery disease is discovered when your doctor is checking for blockages in other parts of the body, for example in the heart (coronary) or carotid arteries. Thirty percent or more of patients who have blockages in other arteries also have blockages in their kidney arteries.
Other Symptoms of Kidney Artery Disease
Symptoms of kidney artery disease also include:
- The sound of turbulent blood flow in your abdomen, heard when your doctor listens through a stethoscope
- Decreased kidney function
- Congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs
- A small, shrunken kidney, or differently sized and shaped kidneys (as seen with an ultrasound test)
- More than three blood pressure medications needed to control blood pressure
- High blood pressure for the first time after age 55 or before the age of 35
- Sudden worsening of high blood pressure that was previously well controlled, especially in people over age 60
See Your Doctor and Ask Questions
Without the help of your doctor, you might not know that you have kidney artery disease. So, make sure you are seeing your doctor on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to ask about kidney artery disease and what you can do to reduce your risk of having it. Download and print Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Kidney Artery Disease to help you remember key points and jot down notes.