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Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

The ankle-brachial index test is done to check for Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), a condition in which the arteries in your legs or arms are narrowed. Ask your doctor if you should have this test if you are age 50 or older and have risk factors including Diabetes, Overweight, High blood pressure, and or High cholesterol.

The Ankle Brachial pressure Index (ABPI), also known as ABI, is the blood pressure in the lower legs divided by the blood pressure in the arms. With this test doctors can identify the potential for blocked arteries (peripheral vascular disease) or PAD.

Hardened arteries (PAD) is caused by fatty deposits that build up in the artery walls and reduce blood flow. This disease (among other symptoms) can cause:

  • Painful cramping in the hip, thigh or calf muscles.
  • Leg numbness
  • Sores on the toes, feet or legs
  • A change in the color of the legs
  • No pulse or a weak pulse in your legs or feet


If PAD progresses, pain may occur when lying down or at rest. If leg pain, numbness, decreased pulse in legs, diabetes, obesity, or other symptoms occur, make an appointment with your physician.

Your doctor will use a regular blood pressure cuff and a special ultrasound device to evaluate blood pressure and flow. Identifying PAD using tests like ABI enables doctors to properly diagnose and treat a patient’s symptoms. As with most diseases, early and accurate discovery allows the patient to receive proper treatment and make appropriate lifestyle changes.

Notify your physician that you are at risk if:

  • You are over 70 years old
  • Over age 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking
  • Under age 50 but have diabetes and other peripheral artery disease risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, hair loss in legs, palpable decreased pulse in legs, diabetes and numbness in legs.

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