What is abdominal angina? What is its clinical significance?
Abdominal angina refers to chronic, recurrent abdominal pain caused by a decrease in arterial blood flow through the mesenteric arteries, usually resulting from stenosis from atherosclerotic lesions.
The postprandial state can be regarded as an exercise stimulus; food entering the stomach causes an increase in oxygen demand thereby decreasing blood flow to the intestines (steal phenomenon).
Pain begins to occur within 30 to 90 minutes and can last for up to four hours. Initially, abdominal angina is usually minimal; however, it progressively increases in severity over weeks to months. Long-term hypoxia of the small intestinal mucosa can cause villous atrophy leading to diarrhea, protein-losing enteropathy, steatorrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition.