If you're looking for an accurate, non-invasive diagnostic test to help identify peripheral artery disease (PAD), then the ankle-brachial index (ABI) test may be just what you need. The ABI test is a simple, painless, and quick way to determine the likelihood that you have PAD. 

Whether you're a healthcare professional or a patient, you will get valuable information about the ABI test and its role in managing peripheral artery disease.

What is ABI?

The ankle-brachial index test is a non-invasive test performed to assess the blood flow in your legs and determine if there is any blockage in the arteries. The test compares the blood pressure readings in the arms and ankles. 

The ankle-brachial index test is commonly used to diagnose peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The arteries in your legs become narrowed or blocked, leading to decreased blood flow to your legs and feet. 

The test also assesses the risk of heart disease and stroke in individuals with PAD. It has some benefits that may include:

  • Non-invasive and painless test.
  • Helps to diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD).
  • Provides a reliable assessment of blood flow to the legs and feet.
  • An easy and quick testing procedure that can be done in a doctor's office.
  • Helps to determine the risk of future heart disease and stroke.

When Is There a Need for An Ankle Brachial Index Test?

You may need an ankle-brachial index test in certain situations like:

  • Having diabetes and an age of more than 50.
  • Have used tobacco products in past years.
  • Having high blood pressure and cholesterol or 
  • The test is also used to screen for PAD in patients with risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. 

What Results Can You Expect from ABI Test?

ABI test results will indicate whether you have normal or abnormal blood flow, and if you have PAD, your doctor can recommend the right treatment options for you.

 The calculations are made by having a number range from less than one or more than one. If the number is between 1.0 and 1.4, you have a normal ankle-brachial index. 

Risks Of Ankle Brachial Index Test

The ankle-brachial index test is a non-invasive diagnostic test that measures the blood pressure in your legs to determine any blockages in your arteries. The risks associated with the test are minimal and considered safe for most patients. 

Some people may experience minor discomfort during the test or the feeling of pressure in their legs, but this usually goes away quickly. In rare cases, the test may cause damage to the blood vessels or nerves in the legs, but this is extremely uncommon.

What Happens During the Test?

The test is performed by taking blood pressure measurements in both the arms and ankles using a blood pressure cuff and Doppler ultrasound device. 

During the test, the technician may also ask you to walk on a treadmill or a stationary bike to evaluate blood flow to your legs and increase the accuracy of the test results. The results of this test can help your doctor determine your risk of heart disease, stroke, or other serious health issues.

What Happens After the Test?

After the test, the healthcare provider will review the results with you and discuss any necessary follow-up steps. 

If the results indicate PAD, your healthcare provider will recommend lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. 

In some cases, medication or surgery may be necessary to treat PAD. Your healthcare provider will discuss these options with you if needed.

What Does a Low and High Ankle Brachial Index Mean?

The ankle-brachial index (ABI) test measures the blood pressure in your legs and arms to help determine if there is any blockage in the arteries that supply blood to your feet and legs.

  • A low ABI means there may be a blockage or narrowing of the arteries in your legs, leading to decreased blood flow and a greater risk of peripheral artery disease.
  • A high ABI can sometimes indicate calcification or hardening of the arteries in your legs, leading to increased blood pressure and a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.


The test is a non-invasive way to evaluate circulation problems in the legs, which can indicate underlying health issues. It's crucial to have an accurate and timely diagnosis of any circulation problems to avoid complications later on. 

If you are experiencing any symptoms related to poor circulation or concerns, scheduling an appointment with your healthcare provider is essential. You know many things about the ankle-brachial index test, so you can move further. 

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