Claudication Exercise Test


  • To confirm the diagnosis of intermittent claudication and peripheral arterial disease.
  • To demonstrate the objective functional limitation of peripheral arterial disease.
  • To document the effect of therapy on initial and absolute claudicating distances.
  • May uncover previously unrecognized coronary artery disease.

This test involves 5 minutes exercise on a treadmill at a speed of 2.6 km/hr at an incline of 10 degrees. It can be especially helpful for individuals in whom there may be more than one cause of leg symptoms with walking, such as from lumbar back or sciatic pain, nerve pain or joint disease. The aim is to see a drop in blood pressure during the test and correlation with symptoms experienced by the patient.


The patient should wear comfortable shoes which he or she would normally use for exercise. The patient will need to wear a gown (supplied) to easily expose the arms and legs (from the groin to the ankle) for the application of blood pressure cuffs.


A baseline measurement of your arm and ankle blood pressures at rest is taken. You will then be asked to walk slowly on a treadmill, typically for as long as you can comfortably walk until your symptoms become too uncomfortable to continue. Lying down again, your arm and ankle blood pressure measurements will be immediately repeated. If you have any difficulty walking, please inform the technologist prior to the treadmill test. The study is performed at a 10 degree incline at a speed of 2.6 km/hr for a period of 5 minutes. This can be varied depending on the patient’s level of fitness. Symptoms are recorded during the study.

*ECG monitoring is performed during the study.

Your examination will take approximately 45 minutes however in some cases you may be asked to do some exercises which will involve additional time.


For a truly positive test, there should be a drop of 20% in the blood pressure reading from the baseline value during or immediately following exercise. The interpretation of the test requires the correlation of symptoms experienced during the study with pressure readings. Similar problems are experienced with that of the subset of patients whose vessels are not compressible due to calcification.

The study should last for 5 minutes which correlates to 250 metres and allows an assessment of claudication distance.

Your study will be reviewed and reported by a vascular surgeon and the results sent to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss these results with you and explain what they mean in relation to your health.

Click here to view the worksheet.