Unraveling the Mystery of Fibromuscular Dysplasia

Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) causes vessel narrowing and blockages throughout the arteries. An abnormal growth of the fibromuscular layer of cells lining the blood vessels produces a characteristic "string of beads," or rings of scarring.

"Fibromuscular dysplasia can affect the arteries leading to the kidneys, where it causes renal failure, and the carotid arteries in the neck, where it leads to stroke," explains Jeffrey W. Olin, DO, Professor of Cardiology and Director of Vascular Medicine and the Vascular Diagnostic Laboratory, who considers fibromuscular dysplasia his highest clinical interest. "It's often misdiagnosed and mistreated."

Fibromuscular dysplasia predominantly affects young women between the ages of 20 and 50.

"It takes young women in the prime of their lives, and it's just devastating," Dr. Olin says.

Mount Sinai Heart Studying the Disease

Because fibromuscular dysplasia is less common than other diseases, funding from government agencies or drug companies has not been forthcoming. Dr. Olin is working with an international fibromuscular dysplasia organization to build a registry funded by patients themselves. A new study for which he is the principal investigator will both identify and register patients and look into the mechanism of why the blood vessels react the way they do.

Mount Sinai has become an international magnet for people suffering from this relatively rare vascular condition.

"People come to New York from all over the world because we have published widely on the subject, and Mount Sinai has more fibromuscular dysplasia patients than anybody in the world," Dr. Olin says.

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