Renal (kidney) artery disease is a condition that develops when the arteries in the abdomen that supply the kidneys become narrowed, or blocked, by an accumulation of a fatty substance called plaque. As plaque builds up inside the artery walls, the arteries can become hardened and narrowed (a process called atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis affects up to 35 percent of Americans, and can cause narrowing (also called stenosis) of any of the arteries throughout the body. As atherosclerosis affects the whole body, people with renal artery narrowing often have other cardiovascular conditions such as carotid artery disease and heart disease.
In renal artery disease, the narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the kidneys, causing progressive kidney failure or difficult-to-control high blood pressure in a significant number of patients.