Fibromuscular dysplasia: A cause of high blood pressure?

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Fibromuscular dysplasia: A cause of high blood pressure?

Question

My doctor says my high blood pressure is due to a condition called fibromuscular dysplasia. How does fibromuscular dysplasia cause high blood pressure?

Sara
California

Answer

In fibromuscular dysplasia, the muscle and fibrous tissues in arteries thicken and harden into rings — which restricts blood flow through the affected arteries and to the organs supplied by these arteries. When fibromuscular dysplasia involves the renal arteries, blood flow to the kidneys is impaired. This triggers the kidneys to release excessive amounts of the enzyme renin, which increases your blood pressure.

The cause of fibromuscular dysplasia isn't known. But you are at increased risk if you smoke or have a family history of this condition.

In mild cases, high blood pressure caused by fibromuscular dysplasia may be treated with diet, exercise and medication while your doctor periodically monitors your kidney function.

In more severe cases, treatment may include:

  • Opening the clogged arteries with angioplasty (percutaneous angioplasty) and possibly placing wire mesh tubes (stents) within the arteries to keep them open
  • Surgery to reroute blood flow around the affected arteries

If the renal arteries can be unblocked and blood flow to the kidneys improved, blood pressure usually returns to normal.

Fibromuscular dysplasia

Image of fibromuscular dysplasia

In fibromuscular dysplasia, the muscle and fibrous tissues in renal arteries thicken and harden into rings. This impairs blood flow to the kidneys, which can lead to high blood pressure.

Last Updated: 07/20/2007
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