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Renal Arterial Disease Causes

Understanding the causes of renal arterial disease can help put you on the path to recovery after a diagnosis. More accurately known as renal artery stenosis, this condition occurs when the arteries that feed blood to one or both of the kidneys narrow, reducing the blood flow. If left untreated it can lead to high blood pressure and kidney damage.

In the vast majority of cases (more than 80 percent), renal artery stenosis is the direct result of a buildup of plaque in the renal arteries (atherosclerosis). Plaque is comprised of cholesterol, fats, calcium, and other materials that attach to the walls of the arteries. There are several risk factors that can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, including:

  • Aging
  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of coronary artery disease

To schedule an appointment with the Heart and Vascular Institute, call 813-844-3900 or email

Though it occurs far less often, another of the renal arterial disease causes is a condition known as fibromuscular dysplasia, which results in cells in the arterial walls growing abnormally. This can cause arteries to both narrow and bulge and can potentially restrict blood flow through the renal arteries to the kidneys.

Studies have shown that when left untreated, renal artery stenosis gets progressively worse in nearly half of patients and can ultimately lead to kidney failure. Treatment options include lifestyle changes (losing weight, smoking cessation), blood pressure medications, and a variety of surgical procedures to either insert a stent to strengthen the affected artery, graft a new artery to improve blood flow, or remove the plaque from the artery.