Clinical examination of peripheral arterial disease and ankle–brachial index in a nationwide cohort of older subjects: practical implications



Prevalence of peripheral arterial disease increases with age and is related to increased morbidity and mortality. The clinical diagnosis includes the measurement of ankle–brachial index (ABI).


To check the prevalence of abnormal ABI, and the value of physical examination of arterial system in detection of ABI < 0.9.


We performed subgroup analysis of patients included in the PolSenior survey. We measured ABI, performed physical examination of arterial system, assessed laboratory and questionnaire factors related to atherosclerosis. Participants were divided according to ABI strata of < 0.9, 0.9–1.4 and > 1.4. Clinical score of abnormalities on physical examination was proposed. Using logistic regression, we obtained areas under the curve (AUC).


The mean age of 844 participants (53.3% men) was 74.7 (10.6) years. ABI < 0.9 was found in 20.3% participants and it was linked to history of myocardial infarction, hypertension and renal failure. In the entire group, 72.4% of subjects declared, that they were able to walk a distance of 200 m without interruption. Higher clinical score was associated with lower ABI. Full physical examination (AUC = 0.67) followed by examination of lower extremities (AUC = 0.65) showed strongest diagnostic value for PAD based on ABI. Neither ABI nor clinical examination was a good predictor of the inability to walk 200 meters without difficulties.


Full clinical examination, only moderately, adds to detection of PAD. The ability to walk 200 m is not a good measure of PAD in older subjects.

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Project was supported by the national grant from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Grant no. PBZ-MEiN-9/2/2006).

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Correspondence to Anna Skalska.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Statement of human and animal rights

The study was approved by the Bioethics Committee of the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice (Nb: KNW-6501-38/I//08).

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Each participant gave written, informed consent to participate in the study.

Additional information

Joint senior authorship: Anna Skalska and Jerzy Gąsowski.

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Królczyk, J., Piotrowicz, K., Chudek, J. et al. Clinical examination of peripheral arterial disease and ankle–brachial index in a nationwide cohort of older subjects: practical implications. Aging Clin Exp Res 31, 1443–1449 (2019).

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  • ABI
  • PAD
  • Older persons
  • Physical examination
  • Arteries