Be Smart at Heart

Featured Article, Healthy Heart, Healthy Living, Women's Health
on January 31, 2012

In their new book entitled Smart at Heart: A Holistic 10-Step Approach to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease in Women, Malissa Wood, M.D., and Dimity McDowell unveil a mind-body program to help women who are at risk for or diagnosed with heart disease. Here Dr. Wood shares three steps for preventing and healing from the physical aspects of heart disease.

Three Easy First Steps Across the Physical Health Bridge

1. Grow a tree. If you haven’t yet, investigate and document your family health history. Share it with your siblings and children.

2. Know your numbers. If it’s been more than two years since you’ve seen a primary care doctor, make an appointment today. Leave that appointment making sure you know your numbers, which include blood pressure, body mass index, fasting glucose level, and cholesterol. (You should have a fasting panel, which charts HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, if it has been more than five years since you had one done, you have heart disease risk, or you have had abnormal results in the past.)

3. Think about drink. If you drink, evaluate your use of alcohol. Do you drink more than one serving daily? If so, consider slowly decreasing the amount consumed until you reach the recommended amount of no more than one drink per day (or better yet, reduce it further so you’re drinking less than seven drinks weekly).


MALISSA WOOD, MD, is the co-director of the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. She sits on the board of the Northeast affiliate of the American Heart Association, and has appeared on the Today show for a national Go Red public service announcement. Visit


Reprinted with permission from Smart at Heart: A Holistic 10-Step Approach to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease for Women by Malissa Wood, MD, and Dimity McDowell. Copyright © 2011 by Harvard University. Published by Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press and the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Available at or wherever books are sold.