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Diagnosis

Early Diagnosis is Critical


Don't Dismiss Signs and Symptoms

If you have leg pain, difficulty walking, foot numbness or other symptoms, don't dismiss these as normal signs of aging. Call your doctor and make an appointment.

Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Early diagnosis and treatment of PAD is important to not only preserve the health of your legs, but also to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, since people with PAD are also at increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.

Have a Physical Exam

  • Your doctor will ask you questions about your general health, medical history and symptoms.
  • He or she will also check the blood flow in your legs or feet to see if you have weak or absent pulses.
  • Your doctor may also listen to your leg arteries for an abnormal whooshing sound called a bruit, which can be heard with a stethoscope. It may be a warning sign for a blocked section of artery.

Diagnostic Tests

In addition, your doctor may perform or order one or more of the following tests:

Ankle-Brachial Index

This simple test compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm. To get this reading, your doctor uses a standard blood pressure cuff and a special ultrasound device to evaluate blood pressure and flow. The ABI test can show if PAD is affecting your limbs, but cannot show which vessels are blocked.

Treadmill Test

Walking on a treadmill can show how severe your symptoms are and what level of exercise brings them on. You may have an ABI test done before and after the treadmill test. This helps compare blood flow in your arms and legs before and after exercise.

Doppler Ultrasound

This test uses high-frequency sound waves to measure real-time blood flow and detect blockages or other abnormalities in the structure of your blood vessels.

Magnetic Resonance Angiogram

This test uses magnetic and radio wave energy to take images of blood vessels inside your body. An MRA is a type of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. It can find the location of a blocked blood vessel and show how severe the blockage is.

Angiography

Allows your doctor to view blood flow through your arteries through the injection of a contrast dye. The flow of the dye can be seen with the use of various imaging techniques such as x-ray.

CT Angiography

Allows your doctor to view blood flow through your arteries through the injection of a contrast dye. The flow of the dye can be seen with the use of CT scan.

Blood Tests

A blood sample can measure levels of cholesterol, homocysteine and C-reactive protein.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
617-667-8800

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