Kidney artery disease is a form of peripheral artery disease that reduces blood flow through the renal arteries, which supply blood to the kidneys. Kidney artery disease can cause high blood pressure and kidney damage, and puts you at risk for heart attack and stroke.
The goals of treatment for kidney artery disease are to slow the progression of disease, avoid permanent kidney damage (which can make you need dialysis to filter the blood), and prevent serious complications such as heart attack and stroke.
Treatment for kidney artery disease consists of:
- Healthy lifestyle changes
- Medication to control blood pressure and prevent heart attack and stroke
- Procedures to clear narrowing or blockages in the kidney arteries and restore blood flow to the kidneys
Women with kidney artery disease will need to make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent the disease from getting worse and to prevent complications of artery disease, including heart attack and stroke. Basic changes include:
- Eating a heart-healthy diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Eat plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
- Getting regular exercise – at least 30 minutes a day most days each week
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting your blood sugar under control and practicing proper foot care if you have diabetes
- Get the help you need to quit smoking if you smoke
Most women with kidney artery disease will also need medication to control their risk factors, lower high blood pressure, and prevent heart attack and stroke. Medications commonly used to treat women with kidney artery disease include:
- Blood pressure drugs to lower high blood pressure. Most women will need more than one type of medication to get their blood pressure under control. The following drugs have proven effective in women with kidney artery disease:
- Statins or other cholesterol drugs to lower high cholesterol and prevent heart attack and stroke
- Aspirin or blood thinners to prevent blood clots
For many women, lifestyle changes and medications may be enough to preserve blood flow to the kidneys and prevent kidney disease from getting worse. However, if your kidney artery disease is causing damage to the kidneys or other organs, or has not responded to medication, you may benefit from a procedure to open the blocked artery.
The most common procedure to treat kidney artery disease is angioplasty and stenting. During balloon angioplasty, a long, thin tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery (usually in the groin) and guided to the blocked artery. Once it is in place, a balloon is inflated, pushing the blockage back against the artery wall and restoring blood flow. In most cases, a tiny wire mesh tube called a stent is left in place to prop the artery open.
In rare cases, women with small or twisting kidney arteries, or weakening of the artery walls that causes them to bulge out (aneurysms), may not be candidates for balloon angioplasty or stenting. For these women, surgery to clear or reshape the arteries may be the only option to restore blood flow to the kidneys and improve kidney function. See Alternatives to Angioplasty and Stenting for Kidney Artery Disease to learn more.
- See our Kidney Artery Disease article to learn more about what causes kidney artery disease and who is at risk
- See Signs of Kidney Artery Disease to learn how doctors can tell if your high blood pressure may be caused by kidney problems
- See Kidney Artery Disease Diagnosis to learn about tests to diagnose kidney artery disease and when you should have them