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Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

Diagnostic Testing for Peripheral Artery Disease in Bakersfield

You might need an ABI test if you are at risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD). This painless, noninvasive diagnostic test is designed to compare your blood pressure from your upper and lower extremities. Your cardiologist may recommend ABI testing if you have PAD symptoms. However, not everyone who has PAD shows any symptoms, making this test even more important. While an ABI can help determine whether you have PAD, it does not identify the specific arteries that have become narrowed or blocked.

The ankle brachial index, or ABI, is calculated by dividing the ankle’s arterial blood pressure by the arm’s arterial blood pressure. When the ratio is lower than 0.9, it could indicate you have PAD in the blood vessels of your lower limbs and that your legs and feet can’t get enough blood they need.

What Is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

PAD is a common but serious disease that is caused by excess arterial plaque. This excess plaque, or fatty deposits, often affects how the blood vessels carry blood to the lower extremities. The arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart and throughout the body. About 10% of people over age 55 have PAD (about 1 in 20), but the majority remain undiagnosed and untreated because they believe their leg numbness or pain is just a natural sign of aging or from another cause. Timely detection of PAD improves your quality of life and reduces your risk of serious cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, stroke, or even death.

What to Expect with ABI

You won’t have to do much at all to prepare for an ABI. You simply need to wear loose, comfortable clothing that will allow the technician to easily take your blood pressure. Before testing begins, you will rest for about 15 to 30 minutes while lying on your back. An inflatable blood pressure cuff will measure your blood pressure in both your arms and both your ankles at the same time. The test only takes a few minutes, after which your cardiologist will discuss the results with you.

Sometimes cardiologists combine ABI tests with exercise tests to measure your blood pressure before and right after physical exertion to see how it changes the value of ABI test while at rest. You should be able to go back to your normal activities following the test, but make sure you follow up with your cardiologist about your test results. Your cardiologist can explain what your PAD results mean and the possible treatments you may need for arterial blockage.

Based on numbers your cardiologist finds, ABI may show the following:

  • No blockage: An ABI number between 1.0 and 1.4 indicates you probably don’t have PAD.
  • Borderline blockage: If your test results are in a range between 0.91 and 0.99, it indicates you have borderline PAD.
  • PAD: An ABI test result number less than 0.90 is considered abnormal and indicates you have PAD. Additional testing may be recommended to view the arteries of your lower limbs.

Contact us at Central Cardiology Medical Center by dialing 661.323.8384 or contact us online today.