ABI Testing

What is ABI testing? ABI testing (or ankle-brachial index testing) is a non-invasive and convenient way to detect the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

What is ABI testing?

ABI testing (or ankle-brachial index testing) is a non-invasive and convenient way to detect the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a condition in which the arteries in the arms or legs are blocked or narrowed. People with this condition have a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, leg pain and poor circulation. This test is occasionally recommend as part of a series of tests, including abdominal ultrasound and carotid ultrasound (which check the arteries in the neck). These tests are all performed to check for blocked or diseased arteries. If you are 50 or older, ask your doctor if you should schedule this test.

What are the risk factors for PAD?

You may be at risk of peripheral artery disease if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Or if you are a current or former cigarette smoker

If you have already been diagnosed with PAD, your doctor may suggest ABI testing in order to see if treatments are working.

How does it work?

ABI tests  compare the blood pressure measured at your arm with the blood pressure measured at your ankle. A low ABI number may indicate that you have a narrowing or blockage of the arteries in your legs, an increased risk of circulatory problems. You may also develop heart disease or suffer a stroke, if you have a low ankle-brachial index number.

During the test, you will lie on your back as your doctor measures your blood pressure in both arms with an inflatable cuff. Next, your blood pressure will be measured in both ankles using the inflatable cuff and a hand-held Doppler ultrasound device that is pressed against your skin. This Doppler ultrasound device will produce images using sound waves and allows your doctor to hear your pulse in your ankle arteries after the cuff is deflated. The test is painless and quick.

There are no special precautions to take after the test, and your doctor will discuss the results with you. Your ABI is calculated by dividing the systolic blood pressure at the arteries near your ankle with the systolic blood pressure in your arms. A score of 1.0-1.4 suggests that there is no blockage. 0.9 or lower indicates a blockage or narrowing of the arteries and a score of 1.4 or more indicates that your arteries are too rigid.

Questions about ABI testing?

If you have questions or concerns about this test, and you live in Encinitas or the surrounding areas, give us a call at (760) 942-0118 or schedule online using our patient portal. The medical team at North Coast Family Medical Group aims to educate and assist people of all ages with medical concerns and symptoms.