ABI (Ankle Brachial Index)
The ABI is a sensitive and cost-effective screening for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). ABI is a superior tool to diagnose the disease in patients who are experiencing lower-extremity symptoms. There are other diagnostic methods for PAD, but ABI is the most valuable method due to its simplicity and noninvasive test which can be used on all patients with PAD.
What is PAD?
Peripheral Arterial Disease is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head. Most common areas of PAD is in the legs. Regardless of gender, the presence of PAD is associated with higher cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The disease is common for diabetics and smokers and is considered to be a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
The cause of PAD is atherosclerosis which happens when plaque made up of fat and calcium builds up on the artery walls in the arms and legs. The buildup occurs gradually but can certainly lead to chronic pain and serious health concerns.
The ABI is a way to confirm a patient’s risk for PAD. The diagnosis is based on the ratio of the blood pressure at the ankle to the blood pressure in the upper arm. If the blood pressure in the ankle is lower than the upper arms blood pressure, the ABI may suggest that the arteries in the patient’s legs are blocked.
Although the ABI is an effective tool, it is not a treatment for PAD. Once diagnosed, patients must seek treatment from a cardiovascular doctor or vascular specialist for medication to treat PAD. A patient can begin self-care like exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and quit tobacco use. If medications and lifestyle changes are not enough, the cardiovascular doctor can refer the patient to a surgeon.
If you are experiencing severe leg pain or cramping in the hips, thighs or calves, contact the vascular doctors at Venocure for an ABI test.