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Ankle Circulation Could Warn of Future Strokes

Quick test may detect peripheral artery disease, research shows

FRIDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A simple test of blood circulation in the ankle could help doctors identify patients at high risk of suffering another stroke, researchers say.

The test compares blood flow in the ankle to that in the arm. A significant difference between the two readings could suggest that a patient suffers from peripheral artery disease, caused by fatty plaque buildup in the arteries of the extremities, the researchers explained in a news release from the American Heart Association.

Stroke survivors and those who have experienced transient ischemic attacks -- also known as TIAs or mini-strokes -- are at high risk of stroke if they have peripheral artery disease, the study authors noted.

In the study, which appeared online Aug. 27 in Stroke, researchers sought to figure out how the condition affects patients.

The researchers screened 102 survivors of strokes and mini-strokes by using a device similar to a blood-pressure cuff to check circulation in their ankles. They found that 26 percent of the patients had peripheral artery disease without symptoms. Those patients were three times more likely to suffer from stroke, heart attack or death within the next two years compared to those who didn't have the condition.

The test "may be appropriate for screening stroke/TIA patients who may be at high risk for vascular events," said lead researcher Dr. Souvik Sen, director of the Stroke Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the news release. "The test is easily performed in less than 15 minutes at the physician's office or at bedside in hospitalized patients."

More information

Learn more about peripheral artery disease from the American Heart Association.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Aug. 27, 2009

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