Renovascular disease is a progressive condition that causes narrowing or blockage of the renal arteries or veins. These are the blood vessels that take blood to and from the kidneys. It's the general term used for three disorders: renal artery occlusion, renal vein thrombosis, and renal atheroembolism.
The term is most often used to describe diseases affecting the renal arteries since blockage of the renal vein is not very common. Renovascular disease usually affects the elderly. However, young women in their teens to late 30s are at risk of a certain type of renovascular disease called fibromuscular dysplasia, a disorder of the muscular lining of the renal arteries that can cause severe high blood pressure.
Renal artery occlusion happens when one or both of the renal arteries are blocked. The arteries carry blood to the kidneys, where waste material is filtered out of the blood.
Renal vein thrombosis occurs when the veins leaving the kidneys (the renal veins) become blocked. The renal veins carry the filtered blood away from the kidneys to the rest of the body.
Renal atheroembolism results from a buildup of fatty material that blocks the renal arterioles (the smallest section of blood vessels leading to the capillaries) and usually affects both sides of the body. Cholesterol and lipids (fats) may also build up on the lining of the blood vessels, causing them to narrow.