Does The Pulse Examination Accurately Diagnose Peripheral Artery Disease?

John VitarelloVitarello
Advisor - Kay Etheridge

Peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.) is the obstruction of blood flow in the arteries caused by the build up of plaque, a condition referred to as atherosclerosis. This results in inadequate blood flow to the affected areas. P.A.D. is believed to affect 20% of adults older than 55 years (Hankey 2006). But the true prevalence of P.A.D is relatively unknown (Criqui 1985), because physician awareness of the disease and diagnosis of P.A.D. remains low (Hirsche 2001). This study was designed to determine if a pulse examination can diagnose P.A.D. in an at-risk population. To assess how valuable the pulse examination is in diagnosing P.A.D the sensitivity, specificity, positive predicative value, and negative predictive value will be calculated. To calculate these statistical measures the ABI will be used as the gold standard. Ankle-brachial indexes (ABIs) are the most reliable and valid noninvasive test for P.AD. (Criqui 1985). Pulse examinations, ABI's, and interviews to asses risk factors were performed on 102 patients in a Cardiovascular practice. I worked under a vascular cardiologist and certified technician to collect this data. The results of the study are forthcoming. I hypothesize that the pulse examination will have a high sensitivity and low positive predictive value. Meaning, a high proportion of people who have the disease will test positive for it but there will be many people who have a positive test but do not have the disease. This research may help doctors more readily diagnose P.A.D and do so in a cost-effective manner.