PAD Screening: Testing Needs to Occur at the Primary Care Level
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) affects up to 12% of adults in the United States. Given that PAD can present as muscle cramps, weakness, or pain in the legs, it’s easy to see how this disease can be overlooked or written off as a natural sign of aging. The importance of detecting and diagnosing PAD in the early stages of the condition is imperative because, left untreated, patients with PAD have a higher risk of cardiovascular issues, lower extremity amputation, or even death.
There are several reasons why PAD is often under-diagnosed and improperly treated, especially in the primary care setting. For one, there is simply a lack of awareness about PAD and related treatment options outside of the vascular speciality. Second, some physicians believe that their practices lack the resources and time to screen patients for PAD. Lastly, there is a misconception that screening equipment for PAD is costly and requires special training. In fact, many medical experts believe that 95% of PAD cases can and should be managed by a patient’s primary care physician.
The best diagnostic test for PAD is the Ankle Brachial Index (ABI), which measures the ratio of ankle to brachial (arm) systolic blood pressure. In simple terms, an ABI exam is a quick and efficient method for checking blood flow to a patient’s legs and feet. This non-invasive exam is easy to administer and can be performed by a doctor in as little as 5 minutes. The ABI test can detect potential blockages of blood flow to a patient’s extremities to aid in the diagnosis of PAD.
Considering that 12 out of every 100 patients in a primary care doctor’s practice could be at risk for PAD, equipment for ABI testing should be a tool that is available to patients as part of their routine health care plan. Newman Medical, a family-owned business, has been manufacturing top-of-the-line ABI systems for more than 40 years. With a variety of equipment and accessories available, Newman Medical’s ABI systems are cost effective, versatile, and customizable to a physician’s needs. Knowing that a 5-minute, non-invasive test could save a patient’s life, the decision to provide ABI testing really is a simple one.