Mesenteric ischemia occurs when there is a narrowing or blockage of one or more of the three major arteries that supply the small and large intestines. These are called the mesenteric arteries.

It is often seen in people who have hardening of the arteries in other parts of the body.

The condition is more common in smokers and in people with high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol.

Mesenteric ischemia may also be caused by a blood clot that suddenly blocks one of the mesenteric arteries. The clots usually come from the heart or aorta. These clots are more commonly seen in people with abnormal heart rhythms.

Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain after eating
  • Diarrhea
  • Symptoms of sudden (acute) mesenteric artery ischemia due to a traveling blood clot:
  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

The outlook after a successful surgery is good. However, it is important to make lifestyle changes to prevent hardening of the arteries from getting worse.

People with acute mesenteric ischemia often do poorly because portions of the intestine may die before surgery can be done. However, with prompt diagnosis and treatment, this disease can be treated successfully.