Eighteen million Americans suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD) which is potentially life threatening, and if left untreated can have grave consequences. During PAD Awareness Month this September, SGMC urges people to learn more about the disease, risk factors, symptoms and treatment options—in order to save limbs and lives. With a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, most patients can manage the symptoms and avoid extreme complications, such as amputation or heart attacks. “PAD is a serious condition that is very common in South Georgia but the good news is that it’s treatable,” says vascular and endovascular surgeon Maurice Solis, MD, SGMC CardioVascular Institute.The risk for developing PAD rises with age and is highest for those over 50 years old. Smoking, the single greatest risk factor, increases the chance of developing PAD three to five times. But other common risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and heart disease.The symptoms of PAD can often be overlooked allowing the disease to progress to a more severe state before it is diagnosed. The most common symptoms are: Leg pain that occurs when walking or exercising and disappears when the activity stops Tired legs, cramping, heaviness or coldness in the lower legs Foot or toe pain at rest that often disturbs sleep: cold or numbness in the feet or toes Wounds on the legs or feet that are slow to heal (more associated with CLI) Despite the severity of PAD, only 26 percent of Americans are familiar with it. Fortunately, there are several treatment options such as lifestyle adjustments, like quitting smoking and eating healthier, or medications, can be effective for many. In severe cases, various procedures including minimally invasive vascular surgery or bypass surgery may be necessary to restore blood flow to the limbs to prevent an amputation.“At the SGMC CardioVascular Institute we provide diagnostic tests, surgery and minimally invasive treatements for PAD and other Vascular Disorders,” says Dr. Solis.Visit LivingWithPAD.com or Take-A-Stand.com to learn more, and talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Visit www.sgmc.org/CVI for more information on treatment options.