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Renal Artery Stenosis

The renal arteries are the main blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to your kidneys. When these arteries become narrowed, it’s called renal artery stenosis (RAS). The narrowing is due to the buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis) inside the wall of the arteries. As plaque builds up, the walls of these arteries start thickening. This thickening leads to a reduced amount of blood flow to organs and tissues connected to these arteries. RAS reduces the flow of oxygen to the kidneys. This reduced blood flow in turn increases blood pressure in your whole body (systemic blood pressure) and injures kidney tissue.

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Renal Artery Stenosis

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Causes of Renal Artery Stenosis

In most cases, atherosclerosis causes renal artery disease. However, other conditions, traits or habits may raise your risk for the disease. These conditions are known as risk factors and include:

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing RAS.

  • Older age

Modifiable Risk Factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

  • Diabetes: When your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.
  • Long history of cigarette smoking and/or drug abuse.
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High Triglycerides: A type of fat (lipid) found in your blood at elevated amounts.

Other conditions that contribute to the development of RAS:

Symptoms of Renal Artery Stenosis

Unfortunately, there aren’t any detectable symptoms specific to RAS. However, once the condition reaches an advanced state, some of these symptoms may appear:

  • Decreased kidney function
  • Fluid retention
  • Heart murmur
  • High blood pressure that begins before age 30 or after age 50.
  • High blood pressure that begins suddenly or worsens without explanation.
  • Swelling of organs or body tissues including rapid lung swelling causing shortness of breath.

Diagnosis of Renal Artery Stenosis

Often, RAS is diagnosed during an examination for another condition, such as high blood pressure. After your doctor performs a physical exam and looks at your medical records, the following diagnostic tests and procedures may take place:

Treatment of Renal Artery Stenosis

Treatment for RAS may involve lifestyle changes, medication or a procedure. Sometimes a combination of treatments is the best approach. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle Changes


High blood pressure often can be successfully treated with medications. Finding the right medication or combination of medications may require time and patience. Some medications commonly used to treat high blood pressure associated with renal artery stenosis include:

  • Heart rate medications will help regulate your heartbeat.
  • Calcium channel blockers will help relax blood vessels and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while also reducing the heart's workload.
  • Diuretics “water pills” will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.
  • Statins will help reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.

Medical and Surgical Procedures

For certain people, a procedure may be recommended to restore blood flow through the renal artery and improve blood flow to the kidney. Procedures to treat renal artery stenosis may include:

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Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
Clara Maass Medical Center
1 Clara Maass Drive
Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 450-2000
Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
RWJ University Hospital Rahway
865 Stone Street
Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 381-4200
RWJ University Hospital Somerset
110 Rehill Avenue
Somerville, NJ 08876
(908) 685-2200
RWJ University Hospital Hamilton
1 Hamilton Health Place
Hamilton, NJ 08690
(609) 586-7900
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus
600 River Avenue
Lakewood, NJ 08701
(732) 363-1900

Renal Artery Stenosis Treatment & Care

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