Ischemia is defined as inadequate blood flow to the body's tissue, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Small vessel ischemic disease is narrowing of the small arteries that supply blood to an area of the body such as the heart or brain. This condition is caused by the build-up of plaque.
Plaque build-up is caused by fat and cholesterol deposits over time on the inner walls of blood vessels and arteries, according to the Cleveland Clinic. As the blockage increases, less blood is able to flow to the affected area of the body. When complete blockage occurs, an individual experiences a heart attack, stroke or renal artery disease. In cases of blockage to an extremity with total loss of blood flow, amputation is necessary if gangrene occurs.
Small vessel ischemic disease causes symptoms that mimic heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some symptoms of small vessel disease include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain that is worse with activity or stress, chest pain and discomfort in the jaw or left arm, loss of energy and trouble sleeping. Normally, small vessel ischemic disease is discovered when a person is tested for heart disease and cleared, but the symptoms persist. This condition is considered a vascular disease and requires medical attention.