The Purpose of an Ankle-Brachial Index Test

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that affects many people within the United States, and can significantly worsen their risk for heart attack or stroke. In order to confirm whether or not a person has PAD, a diagnostic test called the ankle-brachial index (ABI) is typically performed.

How It Works

Because peripheral artery disease is a vascular condition, it is important to assess the patient’s blood pressure in specific areas of the body to compare any significant difference between the blood pressure of the upper body to that of the lower body.

During any sort of visit to the doctor’s office it is standard for your provider to check your blood pressure using a cuff around the upper arm. To measure blood pressure of the lower body, a similar method is used around the patient’s ankle.

To perform an ankle-brachial index test, Dr. Handley will place an inflatable cuff around the ankle. At the same time, they will conduct an ultrasound on the ankle to examine the patient’s pulse after the cuff is gradually deflated. The ultrasound is also able to create real-time images on a screen in front of Dr. Handley, which allows them to see the basic structure and health of an individual’s vascular system in the lower leg.

An ankle-brachial index is reached by dividing the patient’s blood pressure of the ankles over the blood pressure in their upper arms. If the ratio between these two measurements is 0.9 or less, then the person is certainly suffering from limited blood flow to the lower legs.

What PAD Means for Your Health

PAD develops as a result of excess plaque that builds up within an individual’s arteries, which can make it difficult for blood to flow easily from one area of the body to another. Minor symptoms can include feeling cold or a bit numb in outer extremities such as the hands or feet, but PAD can also lead to serious health risks and complications like a heart attack or stroke.

A diagnosis of peripheral artery disease is not always as frightening as many assume, though it does indicate a clear need to change daily habits to promote a healthier lifestyle. Medications can also be prescribed to assist in lowering a patient’s blood pressure, and surgery may be recommended depending on the particular case and severity of the disease.

Preventing Peripheral Artery Disease

Before an ankle-brachial test is even ordered, there are plenty of ways that you can lower your risk for PAD and its associated health problems.

PAD Risk Factors

Right away, you should be aware of any factors that may already increase your risk for poor blood circulation, including:

  • Having diabetes
  • Being 70 years of age or older
  • A history of high blood pressure
  • Being a smoker or having smoked regularly in the past
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Prior diagnosis of atherosclerosis in different areas of the body

Knowing the Symptoms of PAD

Early intervention is always best when it comes to issues with your health, making the detection and identification of PAD signs and symptoms very important. You should contact North Texas Endovascular for a consultation regarding peripheral artery disease if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain while walking or climbing stairs
  • Disrupted leg hair growth
  • A blue tone to the skin of the legs
  • Frequently feeling as though your legs are cold, especially if one leg regularly seems colder than the other
  • Recurring sores on the lower extremities that do not heal quickly
  • A heavy or weakened sensation of the lower legs

Consult an Expert in Flower Mound, TX

For more information about PAD and ankle-brachial testing, please contact North Texas Endovascular today to speak with one of our specialists. For appointments, please call (972) 724-2000, or submit a request using our online form today!