Renovascular Hypertension



The kidneys control blood pressure. If blood cannot get to the kidneys, then some hormones can get out of balance and make blood pressure higher.

Blood flow can be disrupted by:

  • Renal artery stenosis —a narrowing of the arteries of the kidneys
  • Atherosclerosis —plaque buildup that blocks blood flow
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia—muscle and tissue thicken on the artery wall and harden into rings that block blood flow
  • Structural problems—some may be present at birth

Risk Factors

Renovascular hypertension is more common in people over 60 years of age. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Having other family members with kidney or heart problems



Most people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have:

  • Pain in the back or side
  • Bloody urine (pee)
  • Breathing problems from fluid buildup in the lungs
  • Fluid buildup in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will include a blood pressure check.

Blood and urine tests will be done to look for certain proteins and other things that point to this health problem.

Pictures of the kidneys may be taken. This can be done with:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT angiography
  • MR angiography
  • Angiography



The goal of treatment is to lower blood pressure. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.

Lowering blood pressure will also ease stress on the kidneys. Options are:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as exercising, eating a healthful diet, and not smoking
  • Medicines to lower blood pressure
  • Surgery, such as:
    • Percutaneous angioplasty—uses a balloon or stent to open the artery and improve blood flow
    • Bypass—rebuilds a blood vessel by going around the blockage
    • Nephrectomy—removes one or both kidneys


The risk of renovascular hypertension may be lowered by:

  • Not smoking
  • Reaching or maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing low blood pressure

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.