You may see red balloons or heart-shaped decor this time of year.

But for people like Rebekah Doizaki, it stands for a lot more than some Valentine’s Day flare.

Doizaki’s mom had heart problems for a long time, even undergoing triple bypass surgery, until about three months ago when she had a fatal heart attack. She was only in her 60s.

“It was really an unnecessary death. If you have heart problems… just go get checked,” Doizaki pled.

That’s why people like Doizaki and Janet Maxson are working to spread the word about heart disease in women.

For Doizaki, she knows first-hand just how important it is to keep up with your health.

“Just take care of yourself, be more cognizant of what’s going on and your own personal health,” she said. “And if you have health problems just talk to your doctor and don’t be afraid to get the help you need and take the medication if it’s given to you.”

Maxson knows, too. Her dad died of heart disease when he was just 51 years old.

She’s a nurse practitioner at Legacy Health Clinic in Minot and a volunteer for the American Heart Association.

She says over the years research, prevention and treatment have come a long way.

For example, the age range for heart disease in women used to be around 65 and older but in recent years, it’s become 35 to 55.

“Only one out of five women even think of heart disease as their number one killer,” Maxson said. “As a nurse practitioner involved in women’s health for decades, they’re very concerned about breast health which is important. But the major organ that lies under that is the one that keeps us going.”

Things people can do, regardless of gender, include annual doctor visits and a conscious effort the other 364 days out of the year.

“It doesn’t take a whole lot of lifestyle changes,” said Maxson. “I always tell my patients, I say, ‘don’t think you have to do everything at once.'”

Maxson suggests walking even as little as 10 minutes a day, cutting down on unhealthy fats and managing stress.

Long-term stress, she says, can lead to spasms that hurt the heart.

So if you see material aimed to educate, give it a read.

The importance of heart health…is Something You Should Know.

Women can find information from the American Heart Association at the front desk at Legacy Health Clinic and at Doizaki’s truffle shop in the Dakota Square Mall, or by clicking here.