Tests for poor circulation

Peripheral vascular disease, or poor circulation, is caused by a number of disorders. Poor circulation means that blood flow is compromised in various parts of the body, such as the arms or legs. If you suffer from poor circulation, have tests done to determine the cause and start the cycle of treatment immediately.


Problems with circulation can lead to changes in body temperature, such as feeling cold, and changes in skin colour. If you have poor circulation, it can also lead to blueness in the face and extremities. Many sufferers with circulatory problems have difficulty healing from injuries. Pain can occur and you might feel incredible pressure, or even swelling, in the area of the blockage.

Ankle Brachial Index

A diagnosis of poor circulation can be made by administering an ankle brachial index test. This test consists of a cuff being placed around the ankle instead of the upper arm. If there is a gross variation in the blood pressure between the ankle and the arm, it may be determined that poor circulation is to blame.

Blood Tests

Blood tests and glucose tests are administered to determine if cholesterol levels or diabetes are sources of poor circulation. Diabetes can cause symptoms similar to poor circulation and the two health problems are often intertwined.


An ultrasound may be ordered to produce an image of blood flow in your body. It can help determine the source of poor circulation. Ultrasounds measure the speed of blood flow in different parts of the body. Sound waves produce images of the body that can be studied by a technician and your physician.


Arteriography is a test in which a physician injects dye into the artery to determine the location and extent of the blockage. An arteriography is often used to examine the arms, hands and legs, if a doctor thinks that circulatory problems necessitate surgery. A numbing medication is applied before the needle is inserted, while X-rays are taken to determine if structures are normal.


An MRI or CT scan may be used to provide images of a part or the entire body to test for peripheral artery disease. These tools eliminate other health problems or determine if a blockage or narrowing of blood vessels is present. They also look at other parts of the body, such as the brain, abdomen, heart, and other organs, to determine if an aneurysm is present.


Patients with poor circulation can reduce symptoms by making changes in lifestyle patterns, such as following an exercise regime under clinical advice. If you participate in mild exercise, pain problems and circulation can improve.

If you smoke, it is important to stop as it can cause arteries to tighten and decrease blood flow. Smoking also hinders the body's ability to process oxygen and causes blood clots.

Medication may be necessary to control poor circulation. Apsirin or Plavix might be prescribed to prevent blood clots. Cilostazol can help dilate arteries in some cases, if surgery is not an option. Pain relievers can reduce symptoms and some medications can treat problems, like high cholesterol, to reduce the problems caused by poor circulation.

If exercise and medication do not reduce the pain, surgery helps to reduce the pain by removing blockages or putting a stent inside.