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NINDS Fibromuscular Dysplasia Information Page


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What is Fibromuscular Dysplasia?

Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is the abnormal development or growth of cells in the walls of arteries that can cause the vessels to narrow or bulge. The carotid arteries, which pass through the neck and supply blood to the brain, are commonly affected. Arteries within the brain and kidneys can also be affected. A characteristic “string of beads” pattern caused by the alternating narrowing and enlarging of the artery can block or reduce blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke or mini-stroke. Some patients experience no symptoms of the disease while others may have high blood pressure, dizziness or vertigo, chronic headache, intracranial aneurysm, ringing in the ears, weakness or numbness in the face, neck pain, or changes in vision. FMD is most often seen in persons age 25 to 50 years and affects women more often than men. More than one family member may be affected by the disease. The cause of FMD is unknown. An angiogram can detect the degree of narrowing or obstruction of the artery and identify changes such as a tear (dissection) or weak area (aneurysm) in the vessel wall. FMD can also be diagnosed using computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, or ultrasound.

Is there any treatment?

There is no standard protocol to treat FMD. Any treatment to improve blood flow is based on the arteries affected and the progression and severity of the disease. The carotid arteries should be tested if FMD is found elsewhere in the body since carotid involvement is linked to an increased risk of stroke. Patients with minimal narrowing may take a daily antiplatelet such as an aspirin or an anticoagulant to thin the blood and reduce the chances that a clot might form. Medications such as aspirin can also be taken for headache and neck pain, symptoms that can come from FMD. Patients with arterial disease who smoke should be encouraged to quit as smoking worsens the disease. Further treatment may include angioplasty, in which a small balloon is inserted through a catheter and inflated to open the artery. Small tubes called stents may be inserted to keep arteries open. Surgery may be needed to treat aneurysms that have the potential to rupture and cause bleeding within the brain.

What is the prognosis?

Currently there is no cure for FMD. Medicines and angioplasty can reduce the risk of initial or recurrent stroke. In rare cases, FMD-related aneurysms can burst and bleed into the brain, causing stroke, permanent nerve damage, or death.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s primary funding source for research on the brain and nervous system. The NINDS conducts research on stroke and vascular lesions of the nervous system and supports studies through grants to medical institutions across the country.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Fibromuscular Dysplasia Clinical Trials

Organizations

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National Stroke Association
9707 East Easter Lane
Suite B
Centennial, CO   80112-3747
info@stroke.org
http://www.stroke.org
Tel: 303-649-9299 800-STROKES (787-6537)
Fax: 303-649-1328

American Stroke Association: A Division of American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX   75231-4596
strokeinfo@heart.org
http://www.strokeassociation.org
Tel: 1-888-4STROKE (478-7653)
Fax: 214-706-5231

Fibromuscular Dysplasia Society of America (FMDSA)
20325 Center Ridge Road Suite 620
Rocky River, OH   44116
admin@fmdsa.org
http://www.fmdsa.org/
Tel: 216-834-2410 888-709-7089

 


Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892



NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated June 23, 2011