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Semin Vasc Surg. 1999 Jun;12(2):96-108.

Intermittent claudication: a condition with underrated risks.

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Department of Vascular Surgery, St George's Hospital Medical School, London, England, United Kingdom.


Intermittent claudication (IC) is a symptom of peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD); it is subjective and therefore difficult to measure reliably. Both the WHO/Rose Questionnaire and the Edinburgh Questionnaire have been used widely, but they have a low sensitivity and therefore underestimate the true prevalence of IC. The addition of a clinical examination does not necessarily eliminate errors found on questionnaires alone. The single most important part of the physical examination to confirm a diagnosis of IC is the palpation of the patient's peripheral pulses, which alone appears to be more sensitive, but less specific, than the questionnaires. The most useful noninvasive test is the ankle-brachial pressure index (ABPI), and it has been suggested that a resting ABPI of 0.9 is up to 95% sensitive in detecting angiogram-positive disease, and almost 100% specific in identifying apparently healthy individuals. An ABPI of 0.9 or less is believed to be associated with 50% or greater vessel stenosis. The incidence of IC varies depending on the methodology used to define it, but there is a general pattern of a gradual increase in incidence up to the age of at least 70 years. For a chronic disease, the prevalence is a more relevant indicator of how common it is. The prevalence of IC is 3% to 6% in men aged 60 years and increases with age. The prevalence of asymptomatic PAOD may be as high as 20% in the adult population, using noninvasive testing. This is important because, as will be seen in later articles, PAOD, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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