Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Obstruction of the main artery that brings clean blood to your kidney is called renal artery stenosis. The artery to one or both kidneys may be blocked. This usually, but not always results in high blood pressure. In individuals older than 50 years, buildup of atherosclerotic material inside the blood vessels, which occurs with age, can gradually block the artery. In young women, a condition called “fibromuscular hyperplasia” can cause blockage of the artery and high blood pressure. This is also a form of renal artery stenosis. If this condition is not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, it may result in a progressive decrease in kidney function and complete kidney failure.

Living With Your Diagnosis
You may not have any symptoms from your condition. Your doctor may suspect that you have this condition if you have high blood pressure. Special
tests are necessary to diagnose this condition. The test that is most helpful is putting some dye in an artery in your groin and then taking pictures of your kidney blood vessels. You have to take your blood pressure medicine regularly.

Some artery blocks can be dilated with a balloon, whereas others may require surgery. Occasionally blood pressure will be controlled with drug therapy. Your doctor will examine you often to ensure that your blood pressure is well controlled. He will also follow your kidney blood tests closely. If your blood pressure is poorly controlled with medicines or your kidney function starts to worsen, you may need the balloon treatment or surgery. Sometimes you may also receive blood-thinning medicines.

The DOs
• Do not smoke. Smoking makes cells called platelets in your blood sticky. This worsens blood pressure control and may increase your chances of getting heart disease.
• Do take your medicine regularly. It is the most important thing you can do to delay or prevent worsening of your kidney function.
• Do keep your appointments with your doctor.
• Do exercise regularly. This will decrease the risk of complications, such as heart disease, that result from high blood pressure.
• Do eat healthy food. Follow your dietitian’s advice because it is possible that your blood cholesterol level is high. A high cholesterol level increases your risk of heart disease, especially with high blood pressure.
• Do ask your doctor about any questions you may have regarding this condition.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t stop taking your medication before checking with your doctor.
• Don’t take over-the-counter medication, especially drugs similar to ibuprofen, unless you have checked with your doctor. Some of these medicines may not be safe with your kidney condition and may actually make it worse.
• Don’t take any herbal preparations that you may find at health food stores. Some of these preparations have been known to cause kidney disease.
• Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions that may concern you about your disease or its treatment.

When to Call Your Doctor
Always call your doctor if you feel unwell. He may be able to assess whether you need to be seen right away or whether a change in medication is necessary.