Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States?

Heart disease – which includes coronary artery disease and heart attack – took the lives of almost 300,000 women in 2017. In fact, the disease affects women of all ages and heart attacks are on the rise for younger women.

Fortunately, nearly 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education. During Heart Month this February, VA is partnering with the American Heart Association (AHA) to equip women Veterans with the information, tools and resources they need to reduce their risk of the disease.

The symptoms of a heart attack can differ in women versus men. Like men, the most common heart attack symptom for women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely than men to experience other heart attack signs, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Back or jaw pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Regular checkups are crucial

Because disease symptoms vary – and because some women don’t experience any symptoms at all – it’s crucial to have regular checkups to ensure warning signs are caught. Your provider can identify risk factors before the disease strikes and make recommendations to help you lower your future risk.

Beyond keeping up with provider appointments, you can make healthy lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and managing your blood pressure.

To prevent heart disease, experts recommend:

  • Eating a variety of healthy foods
  • Doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity
    • Brisk walking or biking (slower than 10 mph) at least 150 minutes a week
  • Knowing your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and BMI)

VA offers a variety of resources to help women Veterans keep their hearts, minds and bodies healthy:

  • Join thousands of other Veterans who have successfully used VA’s MOVE! Program to jumpstart a more active lifestyle
  • Learn about effective blood pressure management strategies on VA’s website
  • Take advantage of VA’s medical nutrition therapy

Schedule an appointment today

There are simple steps you can take to manage your heart health. Schedule an appointment with your provider today to discuss a plan that works for you.

Do you have a personal experience with heart disease that you’d like to share with other women Veterans? If so, VA and AHA want to hear from you. Interested individuals should prepare a written submission no longer than 500 words describing their experiences as a survivor or caregiver.

AHA staff will feature selected participants in a “Volunteer Spotlight” on the “Go Red for Women” website and in the AHA e-newsletter. Contact a Women Veteran Program Manager at your local VA to learn how to nominate a woman Veteran. The deadline to submit nominations is February 26, 2020.

VA’s Women’s Health Services Office streamlines services for women Veterans to provide cost-effective medical and psychosocial care. 

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Published on Feb. 5, 2020

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