Peripheral arterial disease
If your GP suspects peripheral arterial disease (PAD), they'll first carry out a physical examination of your legs .
PAD can cause various symptoms some of which your GP will be able spot, but you may not such as:
Your GP may also ask about your symptoms and your personal and familymedical histories.
The ankle brachial pressure index (ABPI) test is widely used to diagnose PAD, as well as assess how well you're responding to treatment.
While you rest on your back, your GP or practice nurse will measure the blood pressure in your upper arms and your ankles. These measurements are taken with a Doppler probe, which uses sound waves to determine the blood flow in your arteries.
They then divide the second result (from your ankle) by the first result (from your arm).
If your circulation is healthy, the blood pressure in both parts of your body should be exactly or almost the same, and the result of your ABPI would be one.
However, if you have PAD, the blood pressure in your ankle will be lower because of a reduction in blood supply, so the results of the ABPI would be less than one.
In some cases, ABPI may be carried out after getting you to run on a treadmill or cycle on an exercise bike. This is a good way to see the effect of physical activity on your circulation, although it usually needs to be done in hospital, as most GP surgeries don't have the facilities to perform this test.
In most cases, your GP will be able to confirm a diagnosis of PAD by doing a physical examination, asking about your symptoms and checking your ABPI score.
Further testing is usually only required if:
Additional hospital-based tests that can be used include:
In some cases, the contrast agent may be injected directly into the arteries of your leg, and X-rays may be used to produce the images.
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common condition, in which a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles. It's also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Both legs are often affected at the same time, although the pain may be worse in one leg.
If your GP suspects peripheral arterial disease (PAD), they'll be able to confirm a diagnosis of PAD by doing first a physical examination of your legs, asking about your symptoms and checking your ABPI score. PAD can cause various symptoms some of which your GP will be able spot, but you may not.
There's no cure for peripheral arterial disease (PAD), but lifestyle changes and medication can help reduce the symptoms. These treatments can also help reduce your risk of developing other types of cardiovascular disease (CVD).