UNC LogoA study from The Stroke Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill claimed that if the circulation in the ankle is measured by using a device which is akin to the blood pressure cuff, it can assist in identifying asymptomatic peripheral artery disease (PAD) in stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) survivors. This group of people seem to be at much higher risks of subsequent cerebrovascular events.

To detect poor circulation due to fatty plaque buildup in the lower body, the ankle brachial index (ABI) compares blood flow in the ankle and the arm. Approximately 102 stroke and TIA survivors were screened by the experts. As opposed to those without PAD, people with asymptomatic PAD constituted to about 26 percent of the survivors and they seemed to have three times more cardiovascular events – stroke, heart attacks and death in the following 2 years. Compared with 16 percent of those without the disease, about 50 percent with asymptomatic PAD appear to suffer subsequent events. Future vascular events especially strokes are significantly linked with PAD.

Lead researcher Souvik Sen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Stroke Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill commented “ABI measurement may be appropriate for screening stroke/TIA patients who may be at high risk for vascular events. The test is easily performed in less than 15 minutes at the physician’s office or at bed-side in hospitalized patients.”

According to the experts, this is supposedly one of the first studies to find an independent positive connection between asymptomatic PAD and cardiovascular events in the midst of stroke and TIA patients. PAD occurs when arteries in the extremities supposedly become blocked by plaque. The primary symptoms include leg pain, cramping, weakness and limping during physical exertion. But through the survey it is found that about one-third of patients supposedly never tell their physician about symptoms and apparently less than half of the general physicians may not even bother to ask.

The American Heart Association developed the PAD management guidelines and the American College of Cardiology proposed for screening all high-risk patients

This study was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.