Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death among women both nationally and internationally. Despite increased knowledge regarding CAD in women, early diagnosis remains a difficult clinical task. A correlation between peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and CAD has been noted in previous research; however, these studies were either retrospective or did not focus on women. This research investigates the correlation of ankle brachial index (ABI), measurements used to diagnose PAD, and presence of CAD in women, in an effort to determine the predictive value of ABI specifically in women.
A prospective correlation design was used to study women (n = 30) who were undergoing a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. Ankle brachial index readings were obtained prior to the catheterization procedure. Catheterization findings were grouped according to absence of CAD or presence of 1-vessel or multivessel CAD and coupled with each woman's ABI and recorded cardiovascular risk factors.
Peripheral arterial disease (based on ABI of <0.90 mm Hg) was found in 13.3% of the women. A significant correlation was found between ABI of less than 0.90 mm Hg and increasing age (t = −2.30, P =.029). Coronary artery disease was found in 82.1% of the women; more than half (57.1%) had multivessel disease. Absence of CAD was noted in 17.9%. Women with CAD were older than women without CAD (F = 3.86, P =.035). No significant differences were found between presence or absence of PAD based on ABI and diagnosis of no coronary disease or 1-vessel or multivessel coronary disease.
This study failed to show the expected correlation between ABI of less than 0.90 mm Hg and CAD, but did show a significant correlation of age with presence of both PAD and CAD. Further research that focuses specifically on women is needed and should include a larger sample, additional unique cardiovascular risk factors, and innovative diagnostic tests to determine presence of CAD in women early in the disease process.
Tamera Lea Pearson, PhD, MSN, ACNP Assistant Professor, Adult Department, East Tennessee College of Nursing, Johnson City, Tennessee.
Corresponding author Tamera Pearson, PhD, MSN, ACNP, 30 Glen Falls Rd, Asheville, NC 28804 (firstname.lastname@example.org).