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What are the causes of ischemic bowel disease?

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Ischemic bowel disease is caused by reduced blood flow to the intestines due to blockages, narrowing of arteries due to atherosclerosis, or obstructions in the colon, notes New York University Langone Medical Center. It can affect the small intestine, large intestine or both, and it may be acute or chronic.

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Ischemic bowel disease can result in the death of intestinal tissue due to a lack of oxygenated blood, explains the Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms of acute ischemic bowel disease include severe, localized abdominal pain; nausea and vomiting; bloody stools; and a history of cardiovascular disease. Symptoms of chronic ischemic bowel disease include abdominal pain after meals, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, or constipation and diarrhea. These symptoms develop over time and tend to be less severe compared to acute ischemic bowel disease.

The primary treatment for ischemic bowel disease is surgery to remove or bypass the blockage, according to Mayo Clinic. This is true whether the condition is acute or chronic. Surgery is required in cases where part of the bowel has died to prevent further life-threatening conditions. Balloon angioplasty may be used to open blocked vessels, and stents may be used to help the vessels stay open. Antibiotics may be given to treat or prevent infection, and blood thinners may be used to reduce the risk of blood clots.

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