Fibromuscular disease causes narrowing of arteries throughout your body, most frequently the arteries to the kidneys (renal arteries) and brain (carotid arteries). In rare cases, FMD can affect leg or intestinal arteries.
FMD most commonly affects young women of European descent. FMD of the kidney arteries is found in 4–7% of women. FMD of the brain arteries is found in 0.3–3% of women.
Lifelong, seldom needs treatment
Though FMD is a lifelong condition, it rarely causes symptoms severe enough to treat.
High blood pressure
If you have FMD involving kidney arteries you are likely to have high blood pressure.
Headaches, neck pain, whooshing sound
FMD involving brain arteries can cause headaches, a “whooshing” sound in the ear (pulsatile tinnitus), neck pain. In rare cases you may experience stroke symptoms.
Pain while walking or eating
In rare cases when FMD affects leg or intestinal arteries, it can, respectively, cause pain with walking or eating.
The cause of FMD is unknown. Since it most often affects young women of European descent, it is thought that hormonal and genetic factors are involved.
FMD is usually diagnosed with imaging studies, such as ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or angiogram.
- Taking an aspirin daily is generally recommended to counteract artery narrowing.
- For FMD affecting kidney arteries, high blood pressure can usually be treated with medications. If more treatment is needed, a balloon angioplasty can usually open narrowed arteries.
- Similarly, FMD affecting brain arteries rarely requires treatment, but balloon angioplasty can be effective.
- Rarely, surgery is needed to repair the arteries.