Atheroembolic Renal Disease

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque (fat and cholesterol) within the walls of arteries. Atheroembolic renal disease (AERD) develops when cholesterol crystals break off from the lining of the arteries and move into the bloodstream. During blood circulation, these crystals get stuck in tiny blood vessels called arterioles and reduce blood flow to the kidneys or other parts of the body. AERD can also cause cause swelling, inflammation and damage to the tissue of the kidneys. If blood flow is significantly blocked and kidney damage is severe, atheroembolic renal disease may cause kidney failure. In addition to the kidneys, AERD may affect the skin, eyes, bones, muscles, brain, nerves, and organs in the abdomen.

Causes of AERD

The most common cause of AERD is atherosclerosis. In some cases, AERD has no specific cause, however, there are risk factors for developing this condition which include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Advanced age
  • Diabetes

Males have a greater chance of developing AERD than females.

Symptoms of AERD

In some cases, people do not experience any symptoms of of AERD, however when symptoms do occur they may appear suddenly or develop gradually over time. Symptoms may include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Foot pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Flank pain
  • Fever
  • Blindness

If AERD has caused kidney failure, additional symptoms may include:

  • Decreased urination
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in skin color

Swelling may start in the legs but can eventually affect the entire body.

Diagnosis of AERD

AERD is diagnosed through a physical examination and a review of symptoms. An eye exam may be performed to look for small particles of the arteries in the eyes. Additional tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • X-rays
  • MRI scan
  • Renal arteriography

A kidney biopsy and kidney function test may also be performed to see how well the kidneys are working.

Treatment of AERD

There is no cure or specific treatment for AERD. Treatments focus more on managing symptoms and addressing any organ damage that may have occurred. Medication may be prescribed to treat high blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and smoking cessation are commonly recommended. AERD often gets worse over time, so lifestyle changes may help to slow the progression of the disease. If renal failure has occurred, treatment may include medication, dialysis, or in severe cases, a kidney transplant.

Schedule a Consultation

* All indicated fields must be completed.
Please include non-medical questions and correspondence only.

Accessibility Toolbar

Scroll to Top