Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that affects optimal blood circulation to the limbs, head, and the stomach. The condition occurs due to peripheral arteries becoming narrower and affecting blood supply; particularly in the legs.

Symptoms of PAD

You may have PAD if you experience symptoms such as leg cramps and pain quite regularly. Other symptoms can include weakness in the hips or legs, numbness in legs, sores on legs that don’t heal quickly, and others. Oftentimes, PAD symptoms may not show at all.

If you experience any of these symptoms regularly or even have chronic pain or numbness in the legs; it is time to confirm the PAD diagnosis.

One of the most common diagnostic tests for PAD is the ankle-brachial index (ABI) test.

The Ankle-Brachial Index Test

The ABI test is a simple, quick, and noninvasive test to confirm the diagnosis of PAD. It involves measuring the blood pressure present in the ankles with the blood pressure present in the arms.

The ABI test can be completed within 10-15 minutes. You will lie down as the doctor measures the blood pressure in your arms and ankles. The tools used are inflatable cuffs and a Doppler ultrasound machine.

The process of ABI test is painless and may involve only slight discomfort when the cuff is inflated. The result can be calculated quickly by dividing the systolic (top) blood pressure number of the ankles with those of the arms. Your doctor may also recommend an exercise ABI test that involves exercising on the treadmill for few minutes before measuring the blood pressure.

A range of 1-1.4 means there are no blockages. If the number is less than 1 then it can indicate that the arteries are narrowing. If the number is over 1.4 then it means rigidity in arteries. Your doctor may then order ultrasound tests to confirm the PAD diagnosis.

Significance of ABI Tests

If you experience symptoms of PAD, the ABI test can quickly confirm it and help you start the treatment without delay.

You can also opt for ABI test if you have risk factors associated with PAD. These risk factors can be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. If you have these conditions then you are more likely to develop PAD or other heart conditions. If you are a heavy smoker, your chances of getting PAD can increase exponentially.

If you have PAD, regular ABI tests are recommended to check the efficacy of the ongoing treatment. PAD symptoms can indicate the presence of other heart-related conditions as well. If your PAD diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor can test you for other heart conditions as well or at least monitor your health.

PAD symptoms can also resemble signs of other conditions like spinal stenosis. A quick ABI test can help in the proper diagnosis of the condition that could be causing your leg pain or cramps.

If you are 60 or older, ABI tests are recommended to help with the early diagnosis of PAD. The diagnosis can help you take measures to improve your overall heart health.

Contact Our Office

Peripheral artery disease does not have to go untreated. An early diagnosis with an ABI test can help you live a healthier and more comfortable life. If you feel as if any of these issues are prevalent in your life, then contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shezhad Sami today.