If you have a family history of fibromuscular dysplasia, tell your doctor. Because most people who have fibromuscular dysplasia don't have any symptoms, it's unlikely your doctor would first check for fibromuscular dysplasia unless you have a family history of the condition or he or she hears an abnormal sound in your upper abdomen.
To diagnose fibromuscular dysplasia, your doctor may order one or more imaging tests to see your arteries. You may need to fast for several hours before the tests, depending on where the narrowed arteries are in your body. Ask your doctor if you need to do anything specific to prepare for your test.
Because appointments can be brief and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated.
- Write down key personal information, including a family history of fibromuscular dysplasia, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Be prepared to discuss your diet and your smoking and exercise habits. If you don't already follow a diet or exercise routine, be ready to talk to your doctor about any challenges you might face in getting started.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important, in case time runs out. For fibromuscular dysplasia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests will I need?
- What's the best treatment?
- What foods should I eat or avoid?
- What's an appropriate level of physical activity?
- How often should I be screened or monitored for fibromuscular dysplasia?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have a family history of fibromuscular dysplasia, heart disease, high blood pressure or other serious illness?
What you can do in the meantime
It's never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active.
May 24, 2013
- Poloskey, SL, et al. Fibromuscular dysplasia. Cardiology patient page. Circulation. 2012;125:e636-e639.
- Olin, JW, et al. The United States registry for fibromuscular dysplasia: Results in the first 447 patients. Circulation. 2012;125:3182.
- Slovut DP, et al. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of fibromuscular dysplasia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Slovut DP, et al. Treatment of fibromuscular dysplasia of the renal arteries. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Olin JW, et al. Diagnosis, management, and future developments of fibromuscular dysplasia. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2011;53:826.