Screening for asymptomatic peripheral artery disease (aPAD) with the ankle-brachial index (ABI) test is hypothesized to reduce disease progression and cardiovascular (CV) events by identifying individuals who may benefit from early initiation of medical therapy. Using a Markov model, we evaluated the cost effectiveness of initiating medical therapy (e.g. statin and ACE-inhibitor) after a positive ankle-brachial index (ABI) screen in 65-year-old patients. We modeled progression to symptomatic PAD (sPAD) and CV events with and without ABI screening, evaluating differences in costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). The cost of the ABI test, physician visit, new medication, CV events, and interventions for sPAD were incorporated in the model. We performed sensitivity analysis on model variables with uncertainty. Our model found an incremental cost of US $338 and an incremental QALY of 0.00380 with one-time ABI screening, resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of $88,758/QALY over a 35-year period. The variables with the largest effects in the ICER were aPAD disease prevalence, cost of monthly medication after a positive screen and 2-year medication adherence rates. Screening high-risk populations, such as tobacco users, where the prevalence of PAD may be 2.5 times higher, decreases the ICER to $24,092/QALY. Our analysis indicates the cost effectiveness of one-time screening for aPAD depends on prevalence, medication costs, and adherence to therapies for CV disease risk reduction. Screening in higher-risk populations under favorable assumptions about medication adherence results in the most favorable cost effectiveness, but limitations in the primary data preclude definitive assessment of cost effectiveness.
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