Millions of Americans May Have 'Rare' Artery Disease

Vascular experts believe disease is being massively underdiagnosed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2009 3:42 AM CDT
High blood pressure in people under 35 is often a red flag warning of the existence of FMD, according to vascular specialists.   (©Andreas D.)
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(Newser) – A disease so obscure many doctors don't know about it may actually affect up to one in twenty people, experts tell the Wall Street Journal. Fibromuscular dysplasia—FMD—affects the walls of arteries and can cause blockages. It is rarely diagnosed, or looked for, but vascular experts believe it could be responsible for many heart-related deaths among young people.

Relatively little research has been done on FMD, but several studies have suggested it may afflict around 10 million people in the US alone. Most sufferers may never show any symptoms, experts say, but screening for FMD could save thousands of people from strokes and heart attacks. Vascular specialists are working to compile more information on the disease and alert doctors to the danger signs, which include high blood pressure in people under 35.