If you have been diagnosed with renal artery disease, it is normal to be concerned and to want as much information about the disease and treatment as possible. It can be a particularly difficult time for patients who have experienced a serious cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke.
Renal artery disease, also called renal artery stenosis (RAS), is a condition in which the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys have blockages in them. Blockages restrict blood flow, raise blood pressure in the kidneys, and can ultimately lead to kidney damage or failure. The same disease process that is an underlying cause for heart attack and stroke is also at work in RAS. A fatty substance called plaque builds up in the arteries in a process called atherosclerosis.
The following questions can lay the groundwork for a discussion between you and your doctor:
- What additional tests may I need?
- What are my treatment options? What combination of lifestyle, medication, and procedures or surgery may be necessary to combat the disease?
- What is my prognosis? What are the likely outcomes?
- How will RAS affect my quality of life? What can I do to improve my quality of life?
- Will I need dialysis?
- Will RAS affect my ability to urinate?
- Does having RAS mean I’ll suffer from incontinence?
- What happens after treatment? If treatment involves recovery, how long will that take?
- What follow-up will be necessary?