Chronic Mesenteric Ischemia
What is mesenteric ischemia?
The mesenteric arteries are the arteries that supply blood to your large and small intestines. Ischemia occurs when your blood cannot flow through your arteries as well as it should, and your intestines do not receive the necessary oxygen to perform normally. Mesenteric ischemia usually involves the small intestine, but it may also involve other intra-abdominal organs such as the colon, liver, and stomach.
Mesenteric ischemia usually occurs when one or more of your mesenteric arteries narrows or becomes blocked. When this blockage occurs, you can experience severe abdominal pain. Over time, often quickly, the blockage may worsen and cause tissues in your intestine to die because they lack enough blood flow.
Mesenteric ischemia usually occurs in people older than age 60. You may be more likely to experience mesenteric ischemia if you are a smoker or have a high cholesterol level.
Mesenteric ischemia can be either chronic or acute. Chronic means that you have had the condition and symptoms over a relatively long period of time. Acute means that the symptoms start abruptly and become very serious in a short period of time. Chronic mesenteric ischemia can progress without warning to acute mesenteric ischemia, sometimes very quickly.
What are the symptoms?
If you have chronic mesenteric ischemia, you may experience severe pain in your abdomen 15 to 60 minutes after you eat. This pain can occur in any part of the abdomen, but most commonly it occurs in the middle to upper part. The pain may last for as long as 60 to 90 minutes and then disappear. Unfortunately, it tends to return the next time you eat. Many people with chronic mesenteric ischemia begin losing weight because, although they may feel hungry, they do not want to eat because they experience the pain.