Renal artery stenosis (RAS) is the condition where one or both the arteries starts narrowing thereby depriving the kidneys from blood supply. This is often caused by atherosclerosis.
The image below gives a clear description of RAS.
Renal artery stenosis (RAS) is caused by the hardening of the renal arteries. A material called plaque starts to build up on the walls of the renal arteries thereby resulting in the narrowing of the arteries, which in turn reduces the amount of blood that is being carried out from the arteries to the kidneys. The kidneys get damaged due to insufficient supply of blood. The damaged kidney however, cannot function properly and thus it cannot remove the waste fluid from the blood and hence causes nausea, fatigue, and sometimes swelling in the legs. In extreme conditions, that is, in cases where the kidneys are damaged completely, then the patient would require a kidney transplant or dialysis.
The image below shows plaque build up on the inner wall of the artery that supplies blood to the kidney.
Symptoms of RAS
The main problem with renal artery stenosis is that, there are no obvious symptoms. Because of this there is high chance of the patient being unaware of the fact that he or she is suffering from RAS. Therefore the patient is likely to remain asymtomatic unless and until it becomes a severe case. High blood pressure can be one of the first signs of RAS. Yes, if high blood pressure persists even after taking medications, then it is almost certain that you are prone to RAS. Due to RAS, some people may even get sudden left ventriclular heart failure.
Diagnosis of RAS
- Ultrasound of the arteries will help to get a clear picture of the renal arteries.
- The doctors even can make use of an angiogram, a special kind of X-ray. This is considered as the accurate means of diagnosing RAS.
- Computerized scanning, often called as CT can be used to diagnose RAS.
- RAS can also be diagnosed by using Magnetic Resonance Angiograms (MRA).
Treatment for Renal Artery Stenosis (RAS)
In the initial stage, renal artery stenosis is treated with able medications. The first and the foremost approach is to prevent RAS from getting even worse by taking proper medication to treat high blood pressure that is caused due to RAS. Due to high blood pressure caused by RAS, the kidneys get damaged and if left uncontrolled, it may even result in kidney failure.
Though controlling blood pressure is tedious, it can be achieved with proper medicines. Sometimes the doctors can even make use of two types of medications to treat blood pressure. In addition to controlling blood pressure levels, it very important to control cholesterol levels in order to prevent plaque from occurring on the walls of the arteries. Also keep a close check on your salt consumption. It is very important to reduce the salt in your diet.
When the blood pressure cannot be controlled by oral medication, that is if in case of advanced RAS, then surgeons will use invasive procedure to open up the arteries. The method used here is angioplasty. This method is said to be the best method that is employed to treat RAS. Endarterectomy is another method that cleans the plaque, and clears the artery walls.
If you are suffering from RAS, then you need to make certain changes in your lifestyle. Include a lot of exercise. Also stick to a healthy diet rather than going in for junk food. There is every chance of you being prone to RAS if you are overweight and also, if you are addicted to smoking. To quit smoking is the best thing you can do to save your kidneys. For more information on RAS, seek ample advice from your doctor.