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Ischemia Treatment

The treatment of ischemia involves trying to resolve and restore blood flow to an organ. Read on to know all about this treatment...
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Ischemia is a condition in which blood supply to any particular organ is insufficient. This restriction in blood flow may occur due to problems related to the blood vessel, due to the placement of the organ or due to an increase in the viscosity of blood. It may also occur due to vasoconstriction or a thrombosis or embolism. Ischemia is an emergency condition and needs immediate treatment, as it may, otherwise, cause permanent damage to the organ. Furthermore, if the condition gets worse, it may even prove fatal. Hence, it is extremely important to restore blood circulation on an emergency basis. Depending on the organ involved, the treatment for ischemia will vary. The most common ischemia seen, is in relation to the heart, however, it may also occur in other organs.

Treatment for Ischemia

Myocardial Ischemia
It leads to a condition known as angina or angina pectoris. This is a condition where the blood flow of the coronary arteries is obstructed, leading to an insufficient amount of blood and oxygen supply to the cardiac muscles. This may spur on death of the cardiac muscles, a condition known as myocardial infarction or heart attack. When a person suffers from an angina attack, he feels a terrible crushing pain in the chest. The person may also suffer from irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) due to alteration in the blood flow.

Treatment

Medications
The pain experienced in the chest can be instantly dealt with, by administration of sublingual glyceryl trinitrate. This helps to relieve the chest pain until further treatment is administered. Irregular heartbeats can be countered with the help of a defibrillator. However, you need to be wary of using drugs to counter arrhythmias, as these drugs may even trigger an attack. The doctor may recommend aspirin or other blood thinner to prevent clot formation in the blood. Beta-blockers, cholesterol-lowering medications, nitroglycerin, calcium channel blockers, etc., are the drugs that may be included in the treatment by your doctor, depending on the severity of the condition.

Surgical Procedure
Angioplasty and Stenting: During this procedure the surgeon inserts a catheter (thin, long tube) into the part of the artery that has become narrow. Then, through this catheter, a wire with a small, deflated balloon is passed until it reaches the narrowed area. The balloon is inflated to expand the artery. Further, a small wire mesh coil is inserted to keep the artery open and allow the blood to flow consistently.

Bypass Surgery: Using another vein or a tube created from man-made material, a graft is created to bypass the blocked coronary arteries. After the procedure, the blood flows around the blocked artery without any obstruction. This procedure involves an open heart surgery, hence it is done only when there are multiple blocked or narrowed arteries.

Cerebral Ischemia
Cerebral ischemia involves an insufficient amount of blood supply to the brain. It is considered as a severe condition as any kind of damage to the organ at this stage is almost always irreversible. The person will have a high tendency of undergoing seizures at this stage and they tend to inflict more damage.

Treatment

Medications
The basic treatment will of course, be dictated by the underlying health problem, so if the person has a history of blood clots in the brain, then he should be put on anticoagulants, with warfarin or heparin. To prevent seizures, anticonvulsants need to be given immediately so that the person does not contract other diseases.

Surgical Procedure
Carotid endarterectomy and carotid stenting may be performed if there is significant amount of plaque in the carotid arteries. Both the procedures involve the correction of the narrowed carotid arteries.

Mesenteric or Intestinal Ischemia
It occurs when there is poor blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract due to narrowing or blocking of the blood vessels (arteries) that carry blood to it. This condition may affect your small intestine, large intestine or both. There are two types of this condition:

Acute mesenteric ischemia i.e., sudden loss of blood to the intestine and Chronic intestinal ischemia i.e, gradual loss of blood supply to the intestine.

Treatment

Medications
Medications called thrombolytic agents may be given to prevent the formation of blood clots, dissolve them or to expand the blood vessels in case of acute mesenteric ischemia.
In case of chronic mesenteric ischemia, certain anticoagulants may be prescribed by your doctor.

Surgical Procedure
Acute intestinal ischemia is considered as a medical emergency and it requires immediate surgical operation (angioplasty) to remove blood clots, bypass an artery blockage, repair the damaged section of the intestine or remove it.
Along with angioplasty and bypass surgery, another treatment method to treat chronic mesenteric ischemia would be transaortic endarterectomy, in which the plaque that blocks the mesenteric artery, is removed.

Hepatic Ischemia
When there is lack of oxygen or blood supply to the liver, hepatic ischemia occurs. The cells in the liver get injured during this condition. Low blood pressure is the most common problem that leads to hepatic ischemia and it needs to be treated properly to do away with ischemia. Blood clots in the hepatic artery (main artery of the liver) may also cause this condition.

Treatment
The treatment for hepatic ischemia depends on the cause and the severity of the condition. The main objective of the treatment though, is to restore hepatic perfusion. In many cases, after treatment, problems caused to the liver are cured and its function is restored.


Preventive Measures

There are certain simple measures that can be taken to do away with an attack of ischemia, especially if you are already suffering from ischaemic heart disease. These measures are:
  • Reduce your intake of fats, as the unnecessary build up of cholesterol only increases your chances of getting an ischemia attack.
  • Exercise regularly, as this will maintain a consistent blood flow to all the organs.
  • If you are a diabetic then make sure your blood sugar is under control at all times.
  • Take low dose of aspirin, as this acts as a blood thinner and prevents formation of clots in the blood. (Consult the doctor)
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Smokers should quit smoking immediately.
There is a possibility of silent ischemia wherein the person does not experience any noticeable symptoms. People who are diabetic or have a history of heart attacks are at an increased risk of silent ischemia.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.
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