Lifestyle Changes for Renal Artery Stenosis

Renal artery stenosis occurs when there is a narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to one or both of your kidneys. This decreases blood flow and prevents the kidneys from functioning properly. The cause is typically atherosclerosis, which occurs when plaque—a waxy substance composed of cholesterol, fat, and calcium—builds up in the arteries.

NYU Langone doctors recommend lifestyle changes to help you avoid the return of the condition, which can cause hypertension and, if left untreated, kidney failure.

Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, stresses the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, and blood vessels. Over time, hypertension can lead to organ and tissue damage, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. People with hypertension tend to have atherosclerosis, which can increase the risk of developing renal artery stenosis. 

If you have hypertension, doctors often recommend regular blood pressure monitoring. They also advise adhering to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exercising regularly, reducing salt and alcohol consumption, not smoking, and managing stress.

Stop Smoking

One of the best ways to prevent renal artery stenosis is to stop smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes damage blood cells and vessels and increase the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries. 

When coupled with high blood pressure, obesity, unhealthy cholesterol levels, or uncontrolled diabetes, smoking puts you at an even greater risk of developing renal artery stenosis. NYU Langone offers effective Tobacco Cessation Programs to help you quit.

Manage Cholesterol

Elevated cholesterol levels can lead to a full or partial blockage of the arteries, a leading risk factor for hypertension and renal artery stenosis. Eating healthfully and losing weight if necessary can help reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of artery narrowing. 

NYU Langone doctors may suggest consuming more fruits and vegetables and lean protein to keep cholesterol levels in check. They may also recommend limiting or avoiding fried foods, sugary desserts, heavy creams and dressings, and fatty cuts of meat.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise helps lower “bad,” artery-clogging cholesterol and boost “good” cholesterol, which reduces plaque buildup in the arteries. Exercise also helps control high blood pressure.

Your NYU Langone doctor can offer advice on how to start an exercise regimen or incorporate more physical activity into your routine.

Reduce Stress

Too much daily stress can have long-term, negative effects on your health. When you are under too much stress, or when you find yourself in a frightening or stressful situation, your heart begins to work harder, raising blood pressure, which increases your risk for atherosclerosis. 

Your NYU Langone doctor may advise you to sleep at least eight hours each night and practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.

Control Diabetes

Because people with uncontrolled diabetes are prone to developing plaque in the arteries, it’s essential to manage the condition. Diabetes specialists at NYU Langone can help you make important lifestyle changes, eating healthfully, exercising, and monitoring blood sugar levels. Your doctor can also prescribe medication for diabetes, if necessary.

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