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Ankle Brachial Index Testing: What You Need To Know
August 12, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by Champion Vascular Care
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Your heart health is critical, which is why we offer a range of blood pressure and heart performance monitoring tests to check for various cardiovascular conditions. One such examination is the ankle brachial index test.

Here's what you should know about this simple yet effective cardiovascular testing. 

The Ankle Brachial Index Test

The ankle brachial index test is a really simple way to check how well blood flows around the body by comparing pressure readings in the upper and lower limbs.  

Typically, I use this test to check for peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is when you have blockages in the arteries in the arms or legs. 

The test involves lying on a table. Cuffs are attached to your ankles and arms. An ultrasound device picks up your blood flow by scanning just below the cuffed area. The results are analyzed and we can recommend either lifestyle changes or treatment options if these are necessary.

How To Prepare

The good news is that there's no special preparation necessary for ankle brachial index testing. It's advisable to wear loose, non-restrictive clothing you feel comfortable in, but there's no need to stop taking medication or anything like that. 

If you're unsure about any aspect of the test, my team are always happy to answer your questions before the exam takes place. 

What The Results Mean

The test gives us numbers we can look at to establish whether there's PAD or not. The blood pressure in the ankle artery is divided by the blood pressure in the arm artery we're measuring. 

Generally, if your ratio is 0.9 or less, you probably have PAD. Further testing is likely at this stage to measure the severity of the disease and choose an effective treatment strategy. 

Why Use Ankle Brachial Index Testing? 

Each patient is unique, but there are a few common reasons why I'll test this way.

You're At Risk From PAD

Age plays a big role in PAD development. There's a higher risk if you're aged 70 or over. I also recommend ankle brachial index testing if you: 

  • Smoked or have smoked in the past
  • Have diabetes
  • Show signs of abnormal lower leg pulses
  • Have plaques in other arteries
  • Suffer from high cholesterol or high blood pressure

You May Have PAD 

I recommend this test if you have any classic PAD signs. Although a major symptom is sore legs when you walk or climb stairs, you may also notice: 

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pale or blue-tinged skin
  • Cold legs

There are other symptoms of PAD, and I'll let you know if I think this testing is necessary.

You Have PAD

The test can be used to monitor PAD patients at regular intervals to check their condition isn't worsening. It's also used to check the effectiveness of any current treatments. 

Benefits Of Ankle Brachial Index Testing 

What's great about ankle brachial index testing is that it's painless and non-invasive, and it only takes around 10-15 minutes to perform. The test is easily completed in the Champion Heart and Vascular Center office. 

What's more, ankle brachial index testing is accurate and reliable. It can be performed however often is necessary to monitor blood pressure, and to assess individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease. 

For most patients, it's a risk-free test. However, it isn't suitable for patients with blood clots in their legs. Alternative tests are available in these circumstances. Again, we'll always go over what these options are and which tests are the best for you. 

Learn More Today

At Champion Heart and Vascular Center, we offer cost-effective cardiovascular care in your local neighborhood. Contact us today to see how our dedicated and knowledgeable team can help you.