Fibromuscular Dysplasia- Patient Information

Understandably it is a worrying time for many people at the moment and our thoughts are with all our patients and friends in the FMD community and health care workers looking after them. The advice for patients is updating regularly, so please keep an eye on information from Public Health England.

FMD is a rare condition, but not one that lowers your immune system. As such, FMD alone does not constitute an underlying health issue placing you in a vulnerable group. If, however, you have another condition as a consequence of FMD (or not) e.g. chronic kidney impairment, stroke, then this would place you in a more at risk group.  

The advice for people with FMD would be to:

1: Keep taking your medications – there have been some questions about COVID-19 and ACE-inhibitors (drugs ending in –pril) and ARBs (drugs ending in –sartan). These are based on unsubstantiated theory and the advice from the experts is NOT TO STOP THESE MEDICATIONS IF YOU ARE PRESCRIBED THEM.

2: Minimise non-essential social interactions and maintain social distance – there will be a spectrum of people with FMD here from those with no effects to significant kidney impairment or other health issues who would fall into the category of being advised to isolate.

3: Maintain good hand hygiene and minimise face-touching

If you do become unwell, isolate (as per advice), stay warm and hydrated and use paracetamol as per the packet guidelines on dose (presuming you do not take this already in other preparations) to control fever. There is a little data to suggest this is a better option than ibuprofen.

The Kidney Care UK website offers very helpful and up to date information for patients with kidney impairment (chronic kidney disease). Please have a look here for advice :

  • How the illness affects people

    Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is a rare condition that causes narrowing (stenosis) and/or enlargement (aneurysm) of the small and medium-sized arteries.

    Some people with fibromuscular dysplasia don’t have any symptoms.

    For those that do, the most common symptoms are associated with high blood pressure. However, many people with high blood pressure do not have symptoms in the early stages, and are picked up at a routine health check. When high blood pressure does cause symptoms this can include headaches, breathlessness, blurred vision and dizziness. See How the disease works below for more information.

    Rarely FMD can cause strokes or chest pain, pain after eating and weight loss, pain weakness or numbness in the neck or limbs.

    Other symptoms can vary depending on which parts of the body are affected.


    • High blood pressure especially if you are under 40
    • Tissue damage in your kidneys (ischemic renal atrophy)
    • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) (rare)



    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Blurred vision or temporary loss of vision
    • Pulsating whooshing sound / ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
    • Neck pain
    • Facial weakness or numbness



    • Abdominal pain after eating
    • Unintended weight loss


        Arm and leg

    • Discomfort when moving your arms, legs, hands or feet
    • Cold limbs
    • Weakness
    • Numbness
    • Skin changes in color or appearance



    • Chest pain
    • Heart attack (rare)


    FMD can cause a number of complications if left untreated. This includes high blood pressure and tears in the walls of your coronary (heart) arteries. This is called arterial dissection or spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). Symptoms may include:

    • Chest pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sweating
    • Nausea
  • What can be done about it?

    When to see a doctor

    If you have FMD and have any sudden changes in your vision, ability to speak or new weakness in your arms or legs, you should seek medical attention immediately, just as you would for a stroke.

    Because FMD can be passed on through the genes, it is important that family members know about it and are able to tell their doctor. As high blood pressure is a common early feature of the condition, a regular blood pressure check is recommended. There is currently no genetic test for fibromuscular dysplasia.

    In all cases it is important not to smoke. Smoking adds to the risk of complications. See your GP for help with stopping smoking.

    Treatment Options

    While there isn’t a cure for FMD, most patients can be treated effectively with expert care. Treatment will vary according to which part of the body is affected, and how severe it is.

    Options include:

    • Treating high blood pressure with medications.
    • Taking an antiplatelet agent such as aspirin to help prevent stroke.
    • Surgical procedures. For example, percutaneous transluminal angioplasty to open up a narrow artery or vascular coils and/or stents for treatment of aneurysms and arterial dissection. Open surgery is usually reserved for patients with aneurysms that cannot be treated with less invasive techniques


    For more information about treatment visit the Clinician Information Page.

  • Other peoples’ experiences

    The Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD) Rare Disease Group have produced a update on their recent patient information day in Salford and a review of current literature.

    FMD group update

  • Patient Support Group

    The Fibromuscular Dysplasia Society of UK & Ireland is a patient group with the mission of supporting people affected by FMD, raising awareness about FMD with health care professionals and supporting research into FMD.

    For more information please see:



    Rare Connect:

    The following websites may also be helpful:

  • How the disease works

    FMD is characterized by patches of abnormal cell growth within the arterial wall. It does not affect the veins or the lymphatic system. FMD is different from other diseases of the arteries, such as atherosclerosis (blockage of arteries by cholesterol plaques), vasculitis (inflammation of the arteries), and thrombosis (blockage by a blood clot).

    FMD can lead to narrowing of the artery, sometimes with an irregular pattern. Sometimes a section of the artery is weakened and has bulges (aneurism). These may leak if they get too big, or the delicate lining of the artery may get torn (arterial dissection). Both of these are serious complications that can happen suddenly.

    When FMD causes a narrowing of an artery, the reduced blood flow can upset the function of the organ being supplied. By far the commonest arteries to be affected are those supplying the kidneys (renal arteries). The kidneys are important in regulating blood pressure. If the blood supply is reduced, the kidneys respond by signaling for the blood pressure to rise, causing high blood pressure (renal hypertension). The kidney itself may also become damaged if the blood flow is severely restricted. Kidney function may be reduced but only if there is extensive damage, as kidneys normally have a built in reserve capacity.

    If FMD affects the arteries in the neck that supply the brain, this can give rise to neurological problems including stroke, facial and neck pain, tinnitus and visual disturbance. Likewise, artery damage in heart, limbs and intestines disrupt normal function and may give rise to pain.

    The cause of FMD is not yet fully known. Hormonal factors, abnormal blood vessel development and environmental factors are likely play a role. However 7 – 10% of people with the disease have a similarly affected family member, indicating a genetic basis for the disease. Current research is looking into this.

    FMD is much more common in middle-aged women, but it can occur across the lifespan of both sexes, and very rarely can affect children. People who smoke appear to have an increased risk of developing FMD, and those with FMD should stop smoking as it adds significantly to the risk of serious complications.

  • What’s new? Opportunities for research and development

    The Fibromuscular Dysplasia Rare Disease Group (RDG) are working with international partners to research the cause, prognosis and outcomes for patients with FMD. A first step is to register patients in the National Renal Rare Disease Registry (RaDaR). The registry will be used to find suitable participants for future research trials into the effectiveness of new treatments. If you are interested in finding out more about the registry RaDaR or the activity of the RDG please visit the Fibromuscular Dysplasia RDG page.


    The first international consensus guide on the diagnosis and management of Fibromuscular Dysplasia has recently been published. This can be accessed at:

    Journal of Hypertension 

    Vascular Medicine


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Fibromuscular Dysplasia Patient Information Version 6 Updated April 2019
Written by the Fibromuscular Dysplasia Rare Disease Group