Fibromuscular dysplasia, or FMD, is a rare vascular condition caused by abnormal cell growth in the walls of medium-sized arteries. FMD does not always have symptoms, but if left untreated, it can lead to serious, even deadly conditions like stroke.

To learn more about fibromuscular dysplasia, please visit the UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery or call 412-802-3333.

While doctors don’t know exactly what causes FMD, the good news is that it can be treated. Learn four important facts about this condition and what you can do to stay healthy.

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Facts About Fibromuscular Dysplasia

1: What is fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD)?

Fibromuscular dysplasia, or FMD, happens when abnormal cells grow in the walls of your medium-sized arteries, causing them to narrow, bulge, or tear. FMD may cause your arteries to look beaded, rather than smooth.

FMD can happen in any artery, but it’s most common in the arteries that bring blood to your kidneys (called your renal arteries) and the arteries that bring blood to your brain (called your carotid arteries).

2: What are the symptoms of FMD?

In some cases, FMD may not cause symptoms, so it’s possible to have this condition and not know it. Symptoms can also vary based on which arteries are affected.

Kidney (renal) artery symptoms can include:

Brain (carotid) artery symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Chronic headaches, especially migraines
  • Ringing or whooshing sounds in the ears
  • Neck pain
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke

If arteries in your intestines, limbs, or heart are affected, symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain after eating
  • Weight loss
  • Pain with exercise
  • Lack of blood flow to your limbs
  • Chest pain
  • Heart attack
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)

3: Am I at risk of FMD?

FMD can affect anyone, but it is most common in women ages 25 to 50. In some cases, FMD can run in families.

4: Is there treatment for FMD?

While there is no cure for FMD, treatments vary based on which arteries are affected and how high your risks for other serious conditions, like stroke, might be. Some treatment options can include:

  • Lifestyle changes that lower your risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are linked to vascular disease
  • Regular checkups with your doctor, including imaging tests, to keep an eye on your arteries
  • Medicines that help control blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and treat headaches
  • Angioplasty, which uses a small balloon to open blocked arteries
  • Surgery to repair damaged arteries


About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.