Fibromuscular dysplasia is a vascular condition that causes a mix of narrowed and enlarged areas to form along some of the body's key arteries. This can affect organ function by reducing blood flow, and the arteries most commonly affected are those leading to the brain, kidneys, legs and heart. It's not fully understood why some people develop fibromuscular dysplasia, but there are some factors that can increase your risk, such as a family history of the condition, being female and smoking.
Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for fibromuscular dysplasia:
Symptoms of this condition vary depending on the artery that's affected. When renal arteries are affected, common symptoms include high blood pressure and kidney infections. When arteries leading to your brain are affected, you may experience headaches, neck pain, facial numbness, dizziness and changes to your vision. If coronary arteries are affected, common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain and increased sweating, while fibromuscular dysplasia affecting arteries in your legs can cause localised numbness, discomfort and the skin developing a bluish tint due to insufficient blood supply.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
To diagnose fibromuscular dysplasia, your doctor will take details of your symptoms, carry out a thorough physical exam and take samples of your blood to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as atherosclerosis. You will also undergo diagnostic imaging, such as a vascular ultrasound, to determine the extent of the damage to your arteries and the exact location of narrowed areas.
There is no cure for fibromuscular dysplasia, but the condition can be managed with drugs that relax your blood vessels and encourage increased blood flow to your organs. Some patients will also undergo a procedure called angioplasty, which involves having narrowed arteries dilated with a small balloon on the end of a catheter that's inserted into a damaged artery. A stent may be fitted at the dilation site to support the walls of the artery and prevent the narrowing recurring. Your doctor will follow-up with you at regular intervals to ensure the condition remains under control, and these consultations will include blood tests to check organ function and ultrasounds to confirm your arteries are in a stable condition and any stents fitted remain in place and effective.
If you have any symptoms associated with fibromuscular dysplasia, or if you have any concerns about your vascular health, schedule an urgent appointment with your doctor.