Signs and Symptoms of FMD

In many cases, fibromuscular dysplasia is asymptomatic (i.e., does not cause symptoms). When symptoms do occur, they depend on which artery or arteries are affected and on the severity of the condition. Severe stenosis can cause pain in the area of the body that is supplied by the affected artery.

Fibromuscular dysplasia that develops in the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys (renal arteries) may cause high blood pressure (hypertension) and kidney damage (e.g., ischemic nephropathy). In severe cases, kidney failure can occur.

When fibromuscular dysplasia develops in the arteries that supply blood to the brain (carotid arteries), the condition can cause neurological symptoms, including the following:

  • Blurred vision or vision loss
  • Dizziness (vertigo)
  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

Fibromuscular dysplasia that affects the carotid arteries can cause serious complications, such as stroke or brain attack, transient ischemic attack (TIA, "ministroke"), dilation of a blood vessel in the brain (intracranial aneurysm), bleeding in the brain (intracranial hemorrhage), and dissection (tearing) of the blood vessel (e.g., aortic dissection).

When the arteries that supply blood to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and other abdominal organs (e.g., liver, spleen) are affected by fibromuscular dysplasia, patients may experience abdominal pain and other digestive disorders and weight loss.

Fibromuscular dysplasia that reduces blood flow in the arteries that supply the arms and legs can cause pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling in the extremities and peripheral neuropathy.

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

Published: 02 Apr 2008

Last Modified: 19 Jan 2011