Overview of FMD

Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a condition characterized by abnormal cells (called dysplasia) in the walls of one or more of the arteries. The arteries are vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart throughout the body. Abnormal cell growth in the arterial walls can cause the blood vessels to narrow (called stenosis), decreasing blood flow. Symptoms of fibromuscular dysplasia can occur as a result of impaired blood flow.

Fibromuscular dysplasia, which can develop in arteries throughout the body, most commonly affects the vessels that supply blood to the kidneys (i.e., renal arteries). Fibromuscular dysplasia can affect the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain, increasing the risk for stroke or brain attack. Arteries in the abdomen that supply blood to the GI tract or digestive system (mesenteric arteries) and those that supply the arms and legs (peripheral arteries) also can be affected by fibromuscular dysplasia.

FMD Incidence & Prevalence

Although fibromuscular dysplasia is thought to be a relatively uncommon disorder (affecting approximately 1% of the population), actual incidence is difficult to determine because the condition often goes undetected in patients who do not have symptoms.

Fibromuscular dysplasia is more common in women and the condition usually develops before menopause. In more than 20 percent of cases, fibromuscular dysplasia affects at least two arteries in the body.

Publication Review By: David J. D'Agate, DO, FACC, FCCP, FAHA, Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Apr 2008

Last Modified: 28 Oct 2014