• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 56s

Fibromuscular dysplasia: Mysterious disease in women

By Ivanhoe Newswire 7:30 AM May 24, 2016

Fibromuscular dysplasia, or FMD for short, is up to ten times more common in women than in men. But it’s often overlooked because patients and their doctors have a hard time identifying the symptoms. Here’s what you need to know about this rare and mysterious disease.

Nurse Mary Lou Lucas has spent her career helping others understand their medical problems. But she was stumped when doctors diagnosed her with fibromuscular dysplasia.

“You have what? What is that? A lot of people that I worked with never heard of it,” Lucas said.

FMD happens when fibrous tissue inside a person’s artery walls builds-up and creates a string of beads. It can cause stroke, heart attack, or aneurysm.

“There was a complete blockage in one of my vessels. Oh, I was scared to death,” Lucas said.

Heather Gornik, M.D., a vascular medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, wants to get the word out about this serious, but not well-known, disease.

“It’s a condition that affects mainly women; about 95 percent of our patients are women,” said Dr. Gornik.

Migraine headaches, high blood pressure, dizziness, and a swishing sound in the ears are the main signs.

“I think it’s really sad that it takes three or more years for a patient with symptoms to get a diagnosis,” Dr. Gornik said.

Dr. Gornik helped start a registry that tracks patients with FMD. She wants to help other doctors learn the signs so they can identify the condition. Medication and surgery are often needed to treat it. The sooner it’s diagnosed the better.

Lucas eats right, exercises and sees her doctor regularly.

“I would encourage good follow-up and proactive health care,” said Lucas

Her disease is under control and she wants to keep it that way.

FMD can be diagnosed with vascular imaging tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans or MRI scans to look at the arteries. Doctors aren’t sure what causes the condition but suspect that hormones, genes and other factors play a role. FMD is most common in women between ages 40 and 60 but it can also occur in children and the elderly. Although rare, men can also have FMD.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Brent Sucher, Editor.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Alaskans march against domestic violence and sexual assault

    by Shannon Ballard on Mar 23, 19:54

    Communities across Alaska are taking steps forward, marching in solidarity against what they call an epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault. On Thursday, the Zonta Club of Anchorage organized a march from the Delaney Park Strip to Town Square Park. Roughly 100 people attended. Demonstrations such as this are at the center of the state’s […]

  • Politics

    Alaska Senate passes bill to allow Uber, Lyft in Alaska

    by Liz Raines on Mar 23, 19:24

    The Alaska Senate passed a bill Thursday that gives ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft the green light in Alaska. The measure passed 14 to 5, but not without lengthy debate. Lawmakers spent more than four hours going over the Senate Bill 14. Members of the Democratic minority raised concerns about a provision that allows […]

  • News

    Military props up Alaska’s economy in tough financial times

    by Liz Raines on Mar 23, 19:07

    Alaska’s military leaders are worried the state could become a target for North Korea, and that has armed forces ramping up. Top military officials in Alaska gave state lawmakers an update on the state of the military Thursday, one that shows the new efforts go beyond public safety to helping protect the state’s economy. Alaska’s purse […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: To vote or not to vote

    by John Tracy on Mar 23, 18:31

    So, here’s a question for you. Do you know who’s running for Anchorage Assembly in your area? Chances are you don’t. Don’t feel bad about that. I have to confess that up until I started writing this commentary, I didn’t know the candidates in my area either, and the election is just 12 days away. […]

  • Sports

    Results: ASAA high school basketball quarterfinals

    by Dave Goldman on Mar 23, 17:05

    Girls 3A Quarterfinals Sitka 78 – Valdez 22 Four players scored in the double figures to lead the Sitka Wolves to an easy win over Valdez. Zosha Krupa scored 22 points in 20 minutes. Alexandra Kirby chipped in a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. Anchorage Christian 54 – Galena 37 After a slow […]

  • Politics

    White House tells House Republicans ,’Let’s vote’ on health care bill

    by Associated Press on Mar 23, 16:44

    The Latest on the upcoming health care vote in the House (all times local): 7:50 p.m. President Donald Trump wants the House to vote on the health care bill, and Republicans say a vote will occur Friday. White House officials had a simple message to a divided House Republican caucus on the bill: “Let’s vote.” […]

  • Results mostly positive with ASD’s fitness trackers

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 23, 12:33

    In the fall of 2015 the Anchorage School District handed out a device called “Sqord” to students in 36 schools. The device is similar to a Fitbit watch and connects a social online world with activity tracking. Kids accumulated points based on how active they were and can compare with friends and classmates. The initiative […]

  • See the Easter Bunny and more on the railroad’s Easter Train

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 23, 12:31

    Families looking to get out of Anchorage and celebrate spring and Easter can hop on board the Alaska Railroad’s Easter Train on April 8. The train will depart from Anchorage twice, once in the morning and in the afternoon. The total ride is expected to last two and a half hours. It will head down the […]