The Importance of ABI Tests

ABI tests are important for PAD diagnosis and treatment

Why ABI Tests Are Important for PAD Diagnosis and Treatment

Are you concerned that you’re at risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD)? There are steps you can take to protect your health. You can maintain healthy lifestyle habits that may prevent the disease. You can also prevent the more serious complications of PAD through early detection and treatment.

PAD symptoms include:

  • Cold toes or feet
  • Pain while walking
  • Nighttime leg pain
  • Painful heavy legs
  • Numbness or burning sensations
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Dry, discolored skin
  • Gangrene or black tissue

Unfortunately, PAD frequently flies under the radar — as it’s the biggest disease that most people have never heard about. However, there’s a relatively simple diagnostic tool for PAD. The noninvasive ankle-brachial index (ABI) helps healthcare professionals identify the level of risk for PAD and determine the most effective treatment.

PAD Detection and Treatment

An ABI takes as little as ten minutes. By using a blood pressure cuff, healthcare providers can compare the blood pressure in your ankles with the pressure in your arms. If it’s lower in an ankle than an arm, you may have PAD.

Your physician can determine next steps based on the ABI test results. Nonsurgical treatment options may include lifestyle changes, such as exercise, dietary changes and quitting smoking as well as medical management. Minimally invasive endovascular procedures20 — such as angioplasty, atherectomy or stents — or arterial bypass surgery may be necessary in more severe cases of PAD. 

ABI tests are important because they can lead to treatment that can stop PAD from getting worse. Ignoring symptoms and putting off medical appointments could result in more serious forms of the disease. This form, called critical limb ischemia, can result in amputation of a toe, foot or leg.

ABI tests are covered by most insurance plans for patients with PAD symptoms. Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. recently introduced the Amputation Reduction and Compassion (ARC) Act. The bipartisan bill would expand coverage for ABI tests and require Medicare, Medicaid and group health insurance plans to fully cover costs for PAD screening tests for at-risk beneficiaries.

For more information

An ABI test is the best first step toward detecting and treating PAD. If you are worried about your or a loved one’s symptoms, insist that your doctor take an ABI.

Early detection of PAD can help relieve symptoms, avoid amputation, save your feet and legs and lead to a better quality of life. Use CSI’s Find a Doctor tool to find a PAD specialist to talk to today.