Peripheral arterial disease: prognostic significance and prevention of atherothrombotic complications

Paul E Norman, John W Eikelboom and Graeme J Hankey
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (3): 150-154.


  • The prevalence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in people aged over 55 years is 10%–25% and increases with age; 70%–80% of affected individuals are asymptomatic; only a minority ever require revascularisation or amputation.

  • Patients with PAD alone have the same relative risk of death from cardiovascular causes as those with coronary or cerebrovascular disease, and are four times more likely to die within 10 years than patients without the disease.

  • The ankle–brachial pressure index (ABPI) is a simple, non-invasive bedside tool for diagnosing PAD — an ABPI less than 0.9 is considered diagnostic of PAD.

  • About half of patients with PAD (defined by an abnormal ABPI) have symptomatic coronary or cerebral vascular disease.

  • The ABPI is an independent predictor of coronary and cerebrovascular morbidity and mortality.

  • Patients with PAD require medical management to prevent future coronary and cerebral vascular events.

  • There are currently insufficient data to recommend routine population screening for asymptomatic PAD using the ABPI.

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  • Paul E Norman1
  • John W Eikelboom2
  • Graeme J Hankey3

  • 1 School of Surgery and Pathology, University of Western Australia, Fremantle Hospital, Fremantle, WA.
  • 2 Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA.


Competing interests:

None identified.

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