Cardiovascular disease kills about half a million women every year -- more than cancer, respiratory disease and Alzheimer’s disease combined. The American Heart Association (AHA) this year released new guidelines for preventing heart disease in women. “Most risk factors for heart disease are silent, so unless you have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked you may never know if they’re elevated,” says JoAnne Foody, M.D., Medical Director of the cardiovascular wellness program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The AHA recommends these tests beginning at age 20: blood pressure checks at least every two years; weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference measured at each regular check-up; and cholesterol tests every five years (more frequently when you turn 45 for a man, 50 for a woman, or if problems show up). Blood glucose tests for men and women should be done every three years beginning at age 45. “If you already have symptoms of heart disease, like having difficulty doing activity, unusual fatigue, anxiety, indigestion or shortness of breath, talk to your healthcare provider who may recommend more advanced testing or a consultation with a cardiologist,” says Dr. Foody, who is also an editor of the American College of Cardiology’s CardioSmart Web site.