Pressure measurements at rest and after heavy exercise to detect moderate arterial lesions in athletes

J Vasc Surg. 2001 Apr;33(4):721-7. doi: 10.1067/mva.2001.112802.


Purpose: This study defined how ankle arterial blood pressure measurements should be analyzed for the detection of moderate arterial disease (asymptomatic while walking). We used external iliac artery endofibrosis as a unique model of an isolated moderate arterial lesion, the role of which in exercise-related pain can be surgically proven.

Methods: Patients who were ambulatory in our institutional referral center were studied. Brachial pressures, ankle pressures, and heart rate were measured simultaneously on all four limbs at rest and after maximal exercise in 108 healthy athletes and 78 patients (among 89 athletes referred for suspicion of endofibrosis) with confirmed or excluded external iliac endofibrosis. For these 78 patients, we calculated systolic ankle pressure change, ankle/brachial index, and deviation from the ankle/brachial index to heart rate regression line (DAHR) that was defined in the 108 healthy athletes.

Results: In patients with endofibrosis, ankle/brachial index and ankle pressure were normal at rest. One minute after exercise, areas (mean +/- SE of area) under the receiver operating characteristics curve for the diagnosis of endofibrosis were 0.91 +/- 0.02, 0.91 +/- 0.03, 0.95 +/- 0.02, and 0.96 +/- 0.02 for ankle pressure, pressure change, ankle/brachial index, and DAHR, respectively. For all criteria, area decreased with time in the recovery period.

Conclusion: After heavy-load exercise, the ankle/brachial index at minute 1 should be used rather than the systolic ankle pressure value or ankle pressure change as a means of improving the efficacy of the detection of endofibrosis in athletes. A 0.66 value of the index at minute 1 after maximal exercise seems an optimal cutoff point for clinical use, providing a 90% sensitivity rate and 87% specificity rate in the diagnosis of moderate arterial lesions. At rest and after 1 minute of recovery, the ankle/brachial index to heart rate relationship should be considered to be an efficient tool for analyzing the results of pressures measurements and improving detection efficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / blood supply
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / complications
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology
  • Physical Exertion*
  • ROC Curve
  • Rest
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sports*