Atherosclerotic renal disease

What is atheroembolic renal disease?

This disease occurs when minute particles become dispersed along the small blood vessels in the kidneys. These particles are made of solidified fat and cholesterol, and other substances.

Symptoms of atheroembolic renal disease

It should be borne in mind that the disease may be asymptomatic.  If there are symptoms, they may develop suddenly or worsen slowly over weeks or months. These symptoms may be:

  • Blindness
  • Fever, muscle pain, headaches, weight loss
  • Flank pain
  • Foot problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting

What are the causes of atheroembolic renal disease?

Atheroembolic renal disease is highly linked to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, a disease common to all arteries, occurs when fat, and other substances accumulate in the walls of the arteries to form a hard substance called a plaque.

In this disease, cholesterol crystals become detached from the plaque coating and move towards the blood flow. After entering the circulation, the crystals become lodged in small blood vessels (called arterioles). This reduces blood flow to the tissues and causes swelling and tissue pain, which may damage the kidney or other parts of the body.

Can it be prevented?

Some factors can help reduce the risk of developing the disease:

  • In you are overweight: lose weight.
  • Reduce or give up smoking.
  • Follow medical recommendations for controlling diabetes and hypertension.
  • Reduce fats in the diet, especially saturated fats, in order to lower the level of lipids in the blood.

What is the treatment?

There is no cure for atheroembolic renal disease. The treatment is aimed at managing the complications of organ damage.

Medications may be given to combat hypertension and lower the levels of lipids and cholesterol. 

Furthermore, the doctor may recommend other lifestyle changes, such as doing more exercise or losing weight. It is vital to stop smoking.

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