Kidney hypertension, also known as renovascular hypertension, is a serious medical condition that affects arterial blood pressure within the kidneys. In most cases, kidney hypertension is caused by the presence of plaque buildup as associated with atherosclerosis. A difficult condition to treat, blood pressure medications are generally administered and dietary and lifestyle changes are recommended for renovascular hypertension.
When the arteries that supply the kidneys become constricted and blood flow is reduced, the kidneys release hormones that promote sodium and fluid retention as would occur in the presence of low blood pressure. The resulting accumulation of excess fluids then triggers blood pressure elevation, resulting in the development of kidney hypertension. The constriction of the arterial passages that supply the kidneys, known as renal artery stenosis, is most frequently triggered by the presence of atherosclerosis.
Affecting the arteries in any part of the body, atherosclerosis occurs when cholesterol and fatty substances, known together as plaque, accumulate in the blood passageways. Another condition that may lead to the development of renovascular hypertension is fibromuscular dysplasia. Resulting from abnormal cell development, fibromuscular dysplasia promotes the accumulation of abnormal cells within arterial walls, eventually causing constriction that impairs proper blood flow and increases blood pressure.
As a rule, individuals with hypertension remain asymptomatic, meaning they experience no symptoms at all. Those who do develop symptoms may demonstrate a variety of signs that can include persistent headache, fatigue, and arrhythmia. The presence of blood in one's urine may also be a sign of renovascular hypertension. Additional indications of kidney hypertension may include impaired cognition and vision, acute kidney failure, and fluid buildup in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema.
Those who develop kidney hypertension usually have a history of severe hypertension that has proven to be resistant to traditional treatment or unmanageable. Following an initial physical examination, an individual may be sent for further testing that may include imaging tests to evaluate the condition and functionality of the kidneys and surrounding arteries. Administered tests may include magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), Doppler ultrasound, and renal arteriography. Blood tests may also be performed to evaluate hormone and protein levels and check for any markers indicative of kidney dysfunction.
Treatment for kidney hypertension usually involves the administration of blood pressure medication. Individuals may be instructed to regularly monitor their blood pressure; normal blood pressure levels are considered to be those that register below 140/90 mmHg. Additionally, those with renovascular hypertention should take all prescribed medications as directed and report any adverse effects before discontinuing use. Individuals may also be encouraged to follow through with periodic checkups with their physician to monitor their condition.
Additional changes affecting diet and lifestyle may also be recommended. Individuals may be instructed to take proactive measures to lower their cholesterol, which often requires a change in the foods one consumes. In order to prevent further arterial plaque buildup, individuals are usually instructed to avoid fatty foods and refrain from excessive alcohol consumption. Smoking cessation medications and programs may be recommended for those who smoke and would like to quit to reduce their risk for further complications.
Risks associated with kidney hypertension include an increased chance for cardiovascular issues, blindness, and stroke. Some individuals may develop permanent kidney and arterial damage. Additional complications include kidney failure and premature death. Individuals may decrease their risk for kidney hypertension by making healthy lifestyle choices that reduce their risk for atherosclerosis. Adopting a heart healthy diet and limiting one’s salt intake also may reduce an individual’s risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.