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Heart disease on the rise in woman veterans

Posted at 8:05 AM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 08:35:40-05

Veterans Day is a day to thank service members for putting their lives on the line to protect our freedoms.

“We're really just beginning to learn about this so we don't know the answers for sure but we do know that PTSD can have physiological changes in the brain and the body so we can see increased rates of stress hormones,” says Dr. Sally Haskell, M.D., M.S. the Deputy chief officer for clinical operations and director of comprehensive women’s health in the office of women’s health, veterans health administration. “we can see sometimes inflammatory changes and these things might increase the risk for heart disease.”

Now, the American Heart Association, AHA, organization is sounding the alarm on a battle.

Research by AHA found that the number of female veterans experiencing heart disease is on the rise.

Right now women are the fastest growing group of veterans.

In general heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the united states which killed over 300,000 women in 2019.

Mental health issues, often time stemming from years of service, can include post traumatic stressed disorder and depression which have also shown to be taxing on a person's hearts.

There are warning signs for men and women if you're about to have a heart attack or even a stroke:

  • Chest pain is the most common sign of heart attack in both women and men, but women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
  • Stroke signs in men and women are the same. These include face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and problems with vision, balance and coordination. But women can have other, less obvious signs: general weakness, disorientation, confusion, memory problems, fatigue, nausea or vomiting.

"We do know that women veterans tend to have higher rates for some of the traditional factors of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes high cholesterol, as well as lifestyle factors such as smoking, and uniquely women veterans especially those that we know the most about, using VA care tend to have higher rates of some mental health conditions like PTSD, depression. These factors together with those traditional risk factors can actually increase their risk for heart disease,” said Haskell.

So what can you do to prevent being at risk for heart disease? Make sure to get your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol checked.

Also get outdoors and get active. Runing around will help pump up that heart and also help you lose weight.

Of course eating better will make you feel better and if you're a smoker it's probably best to quit.