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DPHHS encourages Montanans to learn the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is encouraging Montanans to become vigilant about learning the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke during national Heart Health Month in February.

DPHHS officials say that taking steps to learn about cardiovascular disease and the need to take immediate action by calling 9-11 can save lives.

According to DPHHS Director Richard Opper, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Montana. “Chances are you know someone who has been affected by cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke,” Opper said. “Awareness of this issue and its risk factors goes a long ways in possibly preventing a heart attack or stroke.”

One major risk factor for cardiovascular disease is high blood pressure or hypertension. About 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure. High blood pressure is called the ‘silent killer’ because often there are no warning signs or symptoms so people may not be aware they have it. “Once you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, staying active, eating a healthy diet, taking your medications as prescribed and checking your blood pressure regularly are important to help manage it,” said Linda Krantz of the Cardiovascular Health Program.

A doctor or nurse can measure your blood pressure, or you can use a home monitoring device, Krantz advises. “Your worksite may have an automated cuff available for employees to check their blood pressure at work,” Krantz said. In Helena, for example, there is an automated cuff available in the Capitol Rotunda year-round.

Tobacco use is also a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and many other negative health outcomes. For help to quit, contact the Montana Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). This service is free to Montanans.

Below are some resources and Helena events for Heart Health Awareness Month.
   • February 21, 2013, St Peter’s Hospital – Heart of the Matter Event. For more information, visit:


Million Hearts is a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes, bringing together communities and partners from across the country to fight cardiovascular disease. Organizations or individuals can pledge to be a Million Hearts partner; there is no cost, and it takes just a moment of your time. Take the pledge at By making the commitment to eat heart-healthy foods, stay active and take control of your blood pressure, you can make a positive difference in your health.

For more information, contact the Montana Cardiovascular Health Program at 406-444-5508 or visit

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