Preventing Mesenteric Ischemia

At NYU Langone, our cardiologists provide information and education about lifestyle changes that can decrease your chances of developing mesenteric ischemia. This condition occurs when a waxy substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that lead to the large and small intestines. It can cause hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis. The condition may cause a partial or complete blockage of blood flow, depriving cells of oxygen and damaging the intestines.

Smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure may cause the condition.

People with a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation may be prone to developing blood clots that can break off and clog the mesenteric arteries. As a result, it’s important to have atrial fibrillation treated by a cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in heart disorders.

Quit Smoking

One of the best ways to prevent or halt the progression of atherosclerosis, which can lead to mesenteric ischemia, is to quit smoking.

Cigarette smoking can harm blood vessels and increase the risk of developing plaque buildup in the arteries. When coupled with high blood pressure, obesity, unhealthy cholesterol levels, or uncontrolled diabetes, smoking puts you at an even greater risk of developing mesenteric ischemia. 

NYU Langone offers effective Tobacco Cessation Programs to help you quit.

Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

High blood pressure—defined as 140/90 mmHG or higher—can cause arteries to become stiff and narrow, reducing blood flow. You may be able to lower your blood pressure through lifestyle changes, such as losing weight if you’re overweight; exercising regularly; eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; limiting or eliminating alcohol from your diet; quitting smoking; reducing stress; and cutting back on salt. If these changes aren’t enough, an NYU Langone cardiologist can prescribe medication.

Unhealthy levels of cholesterol can lead to a full or partial blockage of the arteries. To keep cholesterol in check, your doctor may recommend consuming more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins and avoiding fried or sugary foods.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise can help improve cholesterol levels, lower high blood pressure, boost circulation, and reduce stress. Your NYU Langone doctor can offer advice on how to start an exercise regimen or incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine.

Control Diabetes

People with uncontrolled diabetes are prone to developing blockages in the arteries, which can lead to coronary artery disease and heart attack—risk factors for mesenteric ischemia. They are also more likely to be obese and have high blood pressure. 

A healthy diet and regular exercise can help control diabetes. Your NYU Langone doctor may prescribe medications to manage blood sugar or high blood pressure.

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