Symptoms and Signs of Renal Artery Stenosis

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Renal Artery Stenosis

Renal artery stenosis describes the narrowing of the renal (kidney) arteries, which can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension). This occurs when one of the renal arteries narrows causing decreased blood flow to the kidney and to the macula densa (the specialized, blood-pressure sensing cells in the kidney). These cells falsely presume the low blood flow is occurring throughout the body and that overall blood pressure is too low. This triggers to increase blood pressure in response.

Renal artery stenosis causes high blood pressure, which is often referred to as the "silent killer" because there are often specific symptoms. Over time the elevated blood pressure stresses the body’s major organs, and becomes a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Symptoms of renal artery stenosis may occur due to damage to the kidneys, and can include fatigue, feeling unwell (malaise), and slight confusion due to a buildup of waste products in the body.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.