Peripheral Arterial Disease: Pulse and Blood Pressure Measurement
Pulse and blood pressure measurements taken in different areas of the body help diagnose peripheral arterial disease.
In the legs, doctors will commonly feel for pulses in the femoral
(groin), popliteal (back of the knee), posterior tibial (ankle), and dorsalis
pedis (foot) areas. Other pulses often checked include the radial (wrist), brachial
(forearm), and carotid (neck) areas.
Renal artery stenosis is a narrowing of arteries that carry blood to one or both of the kidneys. Most often seen in older people with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), renal artery stenosis can worsen over time and often leads to hypertension (high blood pressure) and kidney damage. The body senses less blood reaching the kidneys and misinterprets that as the body having a low blood pressure. This signals the release of hormones from the kidney that lead to an increase in blood pressure...
For peripheral arterial disease, blood pressure might be taken at the ankles, toes, legs, and arms.
Blood pressures are typically taken with a blood pressure cuff. But blood pressure can be measured
using catheters placed inside the arteries. Because the
arteries are punctured, this is known as invasive blood pressure monitoring.
In most people, the resting ankle pressure is greater than the
pressure at the crook of the arm, known as the brachial blood pressure. The
ratio of the ankle pressure to the brachial pressure is called the
ankle-brachial index (ABI).
Toe pressures can be measured with miniature blood pressure cuffs to check for poor blood flow in the
Segmental leg pressures
Arterial pressure can be estimated in the upper thigh, above the
knee, and in the upper calf by placing blood pressure cuffs at the appropriate
levels. The pressures can be compared between the two legs or at different
levels in the same leg.
Blood pressures can be measured at the elbow (brachial), forearm, or
wrist. Large differences between pressures at the various levels suggest
arterial blockage. As with toes, finger pressures can be measured.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer
David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
October 14, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
October 14, 2011
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