Also called the “ankle brachial index,” what is ABI and why should you care about it?
Put simply, it’s a quick test doctors do to check your blood flow and see if you have peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD can cause pain in your legs or feet and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
According to the CDC, PAD affects about 8.5 million people over the age of 40. However, most PAD cases can be found in people over 55-60.
But according to the American Heart Association, up to 4 in 10 people show no symptoms of leg pain at all. Since PAD increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, but doesn’t necessarily show certain symptoms, it makes the arterial brachial index a fairly important test to do.
Fat buildup in your arteries causes PAD. Any lifestyle habit you have that increases your potential for fat buildup is a risk factor for PAD.
It includes common things like these, which are a risk factor for many other health conditions too:
Older age is also a risk factor.
The ABI test is a lot like getting your blood pressure taken by your medical doctor. In fact, a blood pressure cuff is used to do the test.
So, it’s not invasive or even the slightest bit painful in any way. You should be at rest for about 5-30 minutes prior to the test to ensure that you get an accurate reading.
During the test, you simply lie on your back and let your doctor take blood pressure measurements from your arms to your ankles. You then get one of the following results:
It’s pretty simple and based on your own personal circumstances. Your doctor will recommend a combination of:
The arterial brachial index is an important test to have if you’re at risk. It’s simple, fast, painless, and can save you from further pain or even debilitating surgery.