HELENA — The Montana VA is working to raise awareness about heart health, especially for women.
All throughout February, VA staff have been wearing red on Fridays to support heart health awareness and a health fair will be held for patients and staff.
Although heart disease is sometimes thought of primarily affecting men, it’s the leading cause of death of women in the United States.
“Al ot of people think it’s breast cancer. Breast cancer is 1 out of 6 while heart disease is 1 out of 3,” said Montana VA Women Veteran Program Manager Sue Calentine. “That means that every 80 seconds is dying from a heart attack or stroke.”
Calentine says signs of heart issues can be less noticeable in women and encourages everyone to learn the signs there may be something wrong.
Things to watch for include dull or sharp pain in the chest, shoulder or back pain, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath even without chest pain.
The VA says about 80 percent f heart disease and stroke events are preventable.The best way to avoid heart issues is taking preventative steps like diet, managing stress, stopping smoking and talking to a doctor about your risks.
“Obviously if they think it’s an emergency call 9-1-1, but if they have questions, concerns or anything like that certainly call their primary care provider or their Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) and they’d be able to help them out,” said Calentine.
More information about ways to keep the heart healthy can be found here.