Advanced Heart & Vascular Specialists -  - Cardiology

Advanced Heart & Vascular Specialists

Cardiology & Vascular Specialists located in Las Vegas, NV

The ankle-brachial index (ABI) is quick and easy to obtain, and it accurately determines whether you have peripheral artery disease. If you develop leg pain, the cardiac experts at Advanced Heart & Vascular Specialists encourage you to come in for an ABI because untreated peripheral artery disease increases your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Las Vegas or use online booking.


What is the ankle-brachial index?

The ABI is a quick, noninvasive procedure that accurately identifies peripheral artery disease. Your doctor obtains an ABI by comparing the blood pressure at your ankle with the blood pressure measured at your arm. The ratio between the two measurements indicates whether the arteries in your legs are narrowed or blocked, a condition called peripheral artery disease.

What should I know about peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) may occur in the arteries serving your stomach and arms, but it most often affects your legs. The condition develops when the arteries narrow due to an accumulation of cholesterol on the artery wall. Over the years, the cholesterol builds up and hardens into plaque, causing a condition called atherosclerosis.

When plaque gets large enough to block blood flow, the tissues in your legs are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. When the artery has narrowed by about 60% or more, you’ll experience symptoms such as:

  • Leg and thigh pain while you’re walking
  • Numbness or tingling in your legs and feet
  • Foot ulcers that don’t heal
  • Skin discoloration
  • Hair loss on your legs

As PAD worsens and more blood is blocked, you may have pain even when you’re resting.

How is my ankle-brachial index obtained?

To get the most accurate ABI reading, you shouldn’t exercise or consume any caffeine before the test. After you lie down and rest for 5-30 minutes, your blood pressure is determined using an inflatable cuff and a hand-held ultrasound device. After the cuff is inflated, your pulse is measured using the ultrasound.

To determine your ABI, the reading at your ankle is divided by the blood pressure in your arm. If the score is 0.9 or lower, you have PAD. Lower scores indicate more severe disease.

What happens after my ankle-brachial index is determined?

If your ABI is outside the normal range, your doctor at Advanced Heart & Vascular Specialists may schedule repeat ABIs to monitor your PAD to determine whether it’s worsening or to verify that treatments are working.

When you’re diagnosed with PAD, your treatment includes stopping smoking, if needed, and taking medications that alleviate your symptoms and treat underlying conditions, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

At the first sign of leg pain while you walk, call Advanced Heart & Vascular Specialists or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment.