Acute or chronic conditions that affect the blood flow to the arteries that supply blood to the intestines, liver, and spleen are known as visceral artery conditions. The reduction in blood flow can occur when the arteries become blocked by plaque, or they can become dilated by an aneurysm. Lack of treatment can lead to ischemia or lack of oxygen in the body, causing pain at the onset and leading to organ malfunction or failure if not treated. Untreated aneurysms can burst and cause internal bleeding.
The symptoms of visceral artery conditions vary according to whether the condition is a blocked artery or an aneurysm. In the case of acute arterial blockage to the intestines, the symptoms can include frequent vomiting, bloody stool, drop in blood pressure, and the accumulation of hydrogen and/or white blood cells in the blood. If his condition occurs gradually, patients will experience abdominal pain following meals, and weight loss.
On the other hand, patients with aneurysm of a visceral artery may experience sudden pain in the back or abdomen if the aneurysm is preparing to burst, and may collapse or go into shock once the rupture occurs.
Risk Factors for Visceral Artery Conditions
As with many vascular conditions, atherosclerosis is the primary cause of visceral artery conditions. Those at risk for atherosclerosis are smokers, have high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, are obese, or have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Age is also a factor, as most occurrences occur in patients over the age of 50.
Treating Visceral Artery Conditions
There are several treatment options for patients suffering from atherosclerosis or aneurysm, ranging from surgical removal of plaque (endarterectomy), or surgical bypass, angioplasty, or stenting. Ruptured arteries are a severe medical emergency, requiring the aneurysm to be removed surgically and then using a graft to repair the artery. Aneurysms that have not burst can be monitored to see if they are growing in size.
Atherosclerosis is a disease that is highly affected by one’s lifestyle choices. Changing from unhealthy to healthy living (losing weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, quitting smoking, controlling diabetes, maintaining a regular exercise regimen, eating a diet low in fat, etc.) can help slow the affects of the disease.