Does a common test of blood pressure in the ankle help gauge heart disease
risk for adults without any symptoms? A new government-appointed panel says
there's just not enough evidence to say yes or no on the issue at this time.
In a statement issued, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an
independent panel that regularly advises the government on the effectiveness of
various medical interventions, said it's still unclear whether using the "ankle
brachial index" to screen for peripheral artery disease (PAD) and assess the
risk of heart disease is beneficial in adults with no PAD symptoms.
PAD causes decreased blood flow in the legs and can be a sign of overall
cardiovascular disease, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The
ankle test, which compares blood pressure at the ankle with blood pressure in
the arm, is used to diagnosed PAD.
A call for 'research community'
The task force reviewed available research and concluded that there was not
enough evidence to make a definitive recommendation about the use of the test in
people who have no signs or symptoms of PAD and have not been diagnosed with
heart disease, severe chronic kidney disease or diabetes.
Since there is no clear evidence, doctors should consider a number of things
when discussing the issue with patients, including the current research; expert
opinions; their own knowledge and experience; and patients' health histories,
values and preferences, the task force advised.
In the meantime, the panel "calls on the research community" to help settle
issue, task force co-vice chairman Dr Albert Siu said in a news release.
"Investments in such research may lead to improved cardiovascular health for
Americans and to a definitive recommendation from the task force in the future,"
Public comment on the draft statement will be accepted until April 15 and
will be considered as the task force develops its final recommendation.
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about peripheral
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