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Fibromuscular hyperplasia, also known as fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD), is a serious medical condition that affects arterial physiology and function. Commonly affecting the renal arteries, fibromuscular hyperplasia is defined by unchecked cell production, known as dysplasia, which results in a thickening of the affected tissues. The subsequent arterial narrowing places one at significant risk for complications. In the absence of a cure, fibromuscular hyperplasia may be treated with a combination of medications and surgery.
Arterial constriction and hyperplastic symptoms associated with this condition can mimic the effects of atherosclerosis. Therefore, determining the exact cause of one’s symptoms is essential to appropriate treatment. Generally, imaging tests are used to diagnose fibromuscular hyperplasia. Arterial condition, functionality, and circulation are generally evaluated using ultrasound and angiogram technologies.
Fibromuscular dysplastic symptoms present when cellular reproduction within an arterial wall occurs unchecked. As the cells multiply within the confines of the soft tissue, the excess cells serve no purpose. The unnecessary cells accumulate, thickening the tissue and forming a bulge that narrows the arterial passage, ultimately, impairing blood flow.
Despite the absence of a known cause for disease onset, several factors may contribute to fibromuscular hyperplasia. Acquired or congenital arterial malformation that jeopardizes oxygen delivery to the arterial walls may facilitate hyperplastic activity. A genetic link may also be possible since multiple members of a single family may develop FMD symptoms. Tobacco use is also frequently considered a contributory factor due to its effects on blood oxygen levels and arterial health.
In most cases, individuals with fibromuscular hyperplasia remain asymptomatic, meaning they show no signs of illness. Symptom presentation is generally dependent on the location of the arterial dysplasia. Individuals with fibromuscular hyperplasia may develop localized discomfort, atrophy or loss of function, and unintended weight loss. When the arterial dysfunction resides in the extremities, impaired blood circulation may cause numbness, skin discoloration, and the affected area to feel cold to the touch.
If signs of FMD are ignored or treatment is delayed, significant complications may result. Impaired blood flow necessitates increased force to keep the blood circulating, triggering an increase in one’s blood pressure. Areas where the dysplastic activity is most prominent can become weakened, leading to aneurysm development. Compromised circulation may also increase one’s chance for a stroke and jeopardize organ function.
Medications designed to ease arterial constriction, reduce heart rate, and flush excess fluids from the body are generally prescribed for fibromuscular hyperplasia. Angioplasty is usually performed using a balloon catheter to widen the affected artery. The presence of aneurysmal tissue can necessitate stent placement to prevent arterial collapse. Long-term drug therapy is generally recommended following surgery to minimize the possibility for future procedures.
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