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Who Is At Risk For Peripheral Artery Disease & Is There A Blood Test For It?

Peripheral Artery Disease refers to the narrowing of various peripheral arteries, which serve the arms, legs, stomach, and head of a person.

Who Is At Risk For Peripheral Artery Disease?

The following factors may increase your risk related to the development of peripheral artery disease.

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking habits
  • Obesity, especially when you have a body mass index more than 30
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Increase in age, especially after when a person reaches 50 years
  • A family history related to stroke, heart problems and peripheral artery disease
  • High levels of a protein component called homocysteine, which helps in building and maintenance of tissues.

Especially, diabetic patients and people involved in smoking habits remain at high risk to develop peripheral artery disease because of the reduction in blood flow.(2)

Two types of causes for peripheral artery disease:

Functional Peripheral Artery Disease: Under normal conditions, the blood vessels become wide naturally and then become narrow to response to your underlying environment. However, in the case of functional type peripheral artery disease, the blood vessels will exaggerate their responses. Common causes of this type of peripheral artery disease are cold temperature, emotional stress, operating any vibrating equipment or machinery, and certain drugs.

Organic Peripheral Artery Disease: Organic type of peripheral artery disease takes place whenever there is any change in the blood vessel structure. For instance, the formation of the plaque because of arteriosclerosis may cause the narrowing of your blood vessels. Major causes of organic peripheral artery disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking. Organic peripheral artery disease may even cause due to ligaments or muscles with abnormal structures, extreme physical injuries, infection, and inflammation of blood vessels.(1)

Is There A Blood Test For Peripheral Artery Disease?

Yes, doctors recommend for blood test i.e. to collect a sample of the patient’s blood to measure his/her triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Also, a blood test is useful for determining whether a person is a patient of diabetes or not.

However, along with blood tests, doctors recommend a few of the additional tests to diagnose the problem of peripheral artery disease.

Physical Examination: Your doctor may identify the signs and symptoms related to peripheral artery disease during your physical examination. This may be based on an absent or weak pulse below a narrow area present in your artery. Alternatively, your doctor may use a stethoscope to track bruits i.e. whooshing sounds, evidence related to poor healing of wounds in your restricted blood flow area. Doctors may even detect the reduction in blood pressure in the affected limb or limbs.

ltrasound Methods: Doctors use Doppler ultrasound or any other special ultrasound image techniques to evaluate the flow of blood from blood vessels and to identify any narrow or block arteries.

ABI i.e. Ankle Brachial Index: ABI is a common diagnostic method used in the case of peripheral artery disease. This method compares the blood pressure in one’s arm with the blood pressure in the ankle. For this, doctors use a regular blood pressure type of cuff combined with an ultrasound device to evaluate the blood flow and blood pressure. Along with this, you have to walk on a treadmill and your doctor will take readings before and after you complete exercise for capturing the severity related to narrow arteries at the time of walking.

Angiography: In the method of angiography, doctors inject a dye in the blood vessels. This test views the flow of blood from arteries as it takes place. Your doctor will trace the flow of contrast materials with the help of imaging techniques. This includes MRA i.e. magnetic resonance angiography, X-ray imaging technique, and CTA i.e. computerized tomography angiography.(3)


The risk related to peripheral artery disease increases because of various causes depending on the types and certain risk factors. Since diabetes and cholesterol are the two risk factors, doctors recommend blood tests too.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 1, 2020

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