Ankle-brachial index

The ankle-brachial index test is a quick, noninvasive way to check your risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Peripheral artery disease is a condition in which the arteries in your legs or arms are narrowed or blocked. People with peripheral artery disease are at a high risk of heart attack, stroke, poor circulation and leg pain.

The ankle-brachial index test compares your blood pressure measured at your ankle with your blood pressure measured at your arm. A low ankle-brachial index number can indicate narrowing or blockage of the arteries in your legs, leading to circulatory problems, heart disease or stroke. The ankle-brachial index test is sometimes recommended as part of a series of three tests, including the carotid ultrasound and abdominal ultrasound, to check for blocked or narrowed arteries.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

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 any of these risk factors for PAD:

  • Being a current or former smoker
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight (a body mass index of 25 or greater)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

If you've already been diagnosed with PAD, your doctor may recommend having an ankle-brachial index test to see if your treatment is working or if your condition has worsened. If you have symptoms of PAD, your doctor may suggest you have an exercise ankle-brachial index test to determine if your symptoms are due to PAD or other conditions, such as spinal stenosis. In an exercise ankle-brachial index test, you walk on a treadmill for a short time before your ankle-brachial index is measured.

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