Atherosclerotic Renal Artery Stenosis and Hypertension: Pragmatism, Pitfalls, and Perspectives

Chirag Bavishi, Peter W. de Leeuw, Franz H. Messerli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Web of Science)


For many years and even decades, a diagnostic work-up to look for a secondary form of hypertension, particularly of renovascular origin, has been a central tenet in medicine. Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis is considered the most common cause of renovascular hypertension. However, advances in understanding the complex pathophysiology of this condition and the recently documented futility of renal revascularization bring into question whether atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis truly causes "renovascular hypertension." From a clinical point of view, a clear distinction should be made between hypertension associated with atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis and hypertension caused by renal artery stenosis-induced activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Most patients with atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis do not have a form of hypertension that is remediable or improved by angioplasty; to expose them to the cost, inconvenience, and risk of a diagnostic work-up add up to little more than a wild goose chase. However, with very few exceptions, medical therapy with antihypertensives and statins remains the cornerstone for the management of patients with atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis and hypertension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635.e5-635.e14
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis
  • Hypertension
  • Renal revascularization

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