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Intestinal ischemia – causes, side effects and treatments at

Monday, June 18, 2018 by

Intestinal ischemia is an acute or chronic condition that occurs when blood flow to the intestines is reduced due to blockage. The blockage often happens in arteries and affects both the small and large intestines.

This disease can lead to ischemic injuries, such as mild alteration in bowel movement to gangrene, and may come with pain. Some cases even cause death since loss of blood flow to the intestines can damage intestinal tissues.

Every year, less than 200,000 cases are reported and more often, the condition appears in older people.

Known symptoms and risk factors for intestinal ischemia

Intestinal ischemia may develop due to the following factors:

  • Build up of fatty deposits in the arteries
  • Poor maintenance of blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Intake of certain medications
  • Some conditions which may promote blood clotting
  • Use of illegal drugs

The following symptoms are associated with acute intestinal ischemia:

  • Sudden pain in the abdomen
  • Urgent and frequent need to have a bowel movement
  • Abdominal tenderness or distention
  • Presence of blood in the stool
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Mental confusion in older people

Meanwhile, the following symptoms are associated with chronic intestinal ischemia:

  • Cramps in the abdomen
  • Feeling full or bloated after eating which can last up to three hours
  • Pain in the abdomen that worsens over time
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating

Body systems affected by intestinal ischemia

Since intestinal ischemia means blood flow is disrupted due to blockage, it can cause severe complications. If the condition is left untreated, tissues in the affected area die, allowing intestinal bacteria to attack the system. Patients left unattended may suffer from shock, organ failure or death.

Other complications include:

  • Perforation – A hole through the wall of the intestines.
  • Scarring or narrowing of the colon – Scar tissues may form that can cause further blockages.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent intestinal ischemia

To avoid blood clots in the arteries, health experts recommends the consumption of the following types of food:

  • Leafy greens – Products such as lettuce, beets, and arugula are good for intestinal ischemia. They have an important compound converted into nitric oxide which is essential is restricting contractions and blockages in the arteries.
  • Fruits and vegetables – Any plant food is rich in vitamins, minerals, fibers, and special phytonutrients which are essential to keep the overall health optimized.
  • Spices and herbs – They have the same protective properties plants use to ward off pests and diseases. Garlic, for example, contains allium which is known to improve cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and lower the risk of heart disease. Ginger and cinnamon are also some of the recommended herbs and spices.
  • Organic meat – A healthier option that should be paired with a good amount of vegetables.
  • Fish – Fish like salmon and tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These have anti-inflammatory properties and are known to reduce heart rhythm disturbances, triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure.
  • Tea – It is known for its ability to neutralize oxidation in the body. Some flavonoids found in tea can reduce the risk of heart disease and aid in blocking dietary cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Coffee – Although it still needs to be consumed in moderation, black coffee can actually help lower blood pressure.

Treatments, management options for intestinal ischemia

The following are natural ways that can be done to treat or prevent intestinal ischemia:

  • Eat a diet that’s good for the heart.
  • Exercise regularly to improve cardiovascular health.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Quit smoking and consuming alcohol.

Where to learn more


Intestinal ischemia is a bowel disease which occurs when there is a blockage of the arteries, disrupting blood flow to the intestines. This condition can either be acute – symptoms include sudden pain in the abdomen, urgent and frequent need to have a bowel movement, and abdominal tenderness or distention.

Risk factors for this condition include buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, poor maintenance of blood pressure, heart problems, intake of certain medications, some conditions which may promote blood clotting, and use of illegal drugs.

Intestinal ischemia can cause gangrene, perforation, scarring, narrowing of arteries or death if left untreated.

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