By Heather Maloney

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center staff


Heart disease is the number one killer of women. In fact, nearly 37 percent of all female deaths in America are caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to the American Heart Association.


The good news is that many of the risk factors for heart disease are controllable, so you can help lower your chance of developing CVD. And in many cases, making small life changes can have a big impact.


We’ve asked cardiologists from the Women’s Cardiovascular Program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s CardioVascular Institute to share their tips on what you can do today to protect your heart tomorrow:


1. Schedule a check-up. Your doctor can help you manage cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and other conditions that lead to heart disease. But only if she or he knows you have them! Dr. Loryn Feinberg, Medical Director, Women’s Cardiovascular Program


2. Eat your fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish — or fish-oil capsules — will increase your good cholesterol and help with circulation, brain function, memory, depression and more. Dr. Francesca Nesta Delling


3. Get up and move. Make exercise part of your getting-up-in-the-morning routine. Walking is a great way for almost everyone to prevent weight gain and keep the heart strong. Dr. Airley Fish


4. Cut down on salt. Excess salt causes you to retain excess water, placing pressure on your blood vessels and heart. Read food labels, avoid processed and fast foods, and just say no to dill pickles! Dr. Anne Riley


5. Avoid trans fats. In general, oil from nuts, seeds, plants and fish is okay in moderation. Avoid artery-clogging trans fats in fast foods like French fries, commercial baked goods (like doughnuts), and many candy bars. Dr. Karen Thomas


6. Cut 100 calories a day if you are overweight. A healthy body weight is good for your heart. If you cut 100 calories from your diet each day for a year, you’ll lose 10 pounds. Skip that can of soda, chunk of cheese or serving of mayo. Dr. Francine Welty


7.Quit Smoking. You already know this, but … smoking is really, really bad for you. It damages your arteries, increasing your risk for heart attack or stroke. Find a way to kick the habit. Dr. Meghan York


Above content provided by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.


Posted January 2013