Heart Healthy Blog by Boston Heart

Michael Dansinger, MD

Dr. Dansinger has been a doctor for 21 years and counting. As a doctor, he has traveled across the United States treating patients, giving medical talks, and meeting thousands of people from all walks of life. Through his interactions with people, Dr. Dansinger has been inspired to continue to find ways to help people live healthier lives. You can often see the impact doctors have on patients, but you don’t always know the impact patients have on doctors. The opportunity to save lives, make a difference, and build meaningful relationships fuels his passion to do what he does. Dr. Dansinger has published several research studies and also led the WebMD Diabetes Community for many years. • Director of the Diabetes Reversal Program at Tufts Medical Center • Medical Director of the Boston Heart Lifestyle Program • Nutrition Doctor for NBC’s The Biggest Loser for the past 10 years

Recent Posts

Mediterranean Diet Improves Heart Risk and HDL Function

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Apr 20, 2017 11:30:00 AM

The Mediterranean Diet is a proven eating strategy for good heart health. A recent study shows the health benefits may be partly due to improvements in HDL particle function.1

What is HDL particle function and why is this important?

HDL means “High Density Lipoprotein”, which is a scientific name for a very important set of microscopic particles in the blood. The HDL particles are like multi-tasking superheroes that help keep the arteries healthy. These particles are best-known for slowing the accumulation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries which lead to heart disease and strokes. For example, when functioning properly, the HDL particles help remove cholesterol from inside the artery wall (reverse cholesterol transport), help protect the arteries from damage by oxidation (anti-oxidant properties), and help arteries to stay relaxed (vasodilation). Unfortunately, HDL particles can lose their effectiveness (become dysfunctional) as a result of eating unhealthy food. Other important causes of unhealthy HDL particles include lack of physical activity, excess body fat in the abdomen, high blood sugar levels, and smoking.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support, Wellness, Empowerment

Bridging the Racial Gap in Heart Disease

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Feb 24, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Each February we celebrate both Black History Month and Heart Month. This is a great opportunity to reaffirm the importance of working together as a society that fights against avoidable deaths including premature heart disease. In African Americans, avoidable deaths from premature heart disease are especially common and death from all cardiovascular disease is 33% higher than in the general population. Ethnic minority populations face barriers to heart disease diagnosis and care, receive lower quality treatment, and experience worse health outcomes than the general population. This is not acceptable, and I would like to applaud and celebrate those individuals and organizations that are working hard to help understand and bridge the racial gap in heart disease.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, CVD Testing, Men's Health, Empowerment, Women's Health

Playing the Hand You’re Dealt: Genetics vs. Lifestyle Choices

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Feb 23, 2017 10:01:00 AM

I recently read about a new Healthy Lifestyle study in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.1  When a top medical journal reports such a study it tends to strongly influence the way doctors and other experts think about the value of “Lifestyle Medicine.” I’m excited to declare that the new findings strongly support the critically important role of healthy lifestyle habits for preventing premature cardiovascular disease, especially in people with an increased “genetic risk.”

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Topics: Latest Science, Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health

Giving Thanks For “Diabetes Reversal”

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Nov 10, 2016 11:35:00 AM

November is National Diabetes Month, and with Thanksgiving just ahead I’d like to express my gratitude to my patients with diabetes and prediabetes. I am tremendously fortunate to have had the privilege of working with thousands of people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes throughout my 20+ years of medical practice. Every week I see patients at the Diabetes Reversal Program at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and serve as the Medical Director for the Boston Heart Lifestyle Program serving thousands of patients with type 2 diabetes and related risk factors. I am also grateful for the opportunity to serve as a diabetes expert for WebMD, including 5 great years leading the WebMD Diabetes Community.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Success Stories

Twitter Language Predicts Heart Disease Risk

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Sep 29, 2016 11:30:00 AM

This amazing study published in 20151, demonstrated that heart disease rates in a community could be predicted quite well just by looking at how positively or negatively people were expressing themselves toward others. Using anonymous data analysis, millions of Twitter phrases were used to measure the degree of positivity and negativity expressed in various counties throughout the U.S. Researchers looked for expressions of anger, frustration, and discontent, as well as expressions of happiness, and positivity. For example, the frequency of phrases that included angry curse words was particularly predictive of high rates of heart disease deaths in the same community. On the other hand, high rates of positive or optimistic phrases or words, such as “great” or “wonderful”, predicted lower death rates.

This “community attitude rating” as I will call it, was such a strong predictor of heart disease death rates, that it outperformed any other prediction measure the researchers could find. Regardless of the mix of age, ethnicity, gender, income, education or other demographics, the “community attitude rating” was the clear winner. Twitter language was even more predictive of heart disease death rates than rates of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity in a community.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Men's Health, Women's Health

A Healthy Waist is Less than Half Your Height

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Sep 8, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Leonardo da Vinci’s globally recognized illustration “Vitruvian Man”, created around 1490 AD, is an inspirational reminder that human bodies are amazingly symmetrical, beautiful and functional. For example, human arm span is the same length as body height, forming a square in his illustration. At the center of a circle, circumscribed by outstretched arms and legs, is the navel. The navel is also located at the “golden ratio” point along the human body. The golden ratio, a measure of symmetry and natural beauty famous among mathematicians and architects (symbolized by the Greek letter phi), can be found throughout the body when analyzing the lengths of related body parts, body dimensions, and facial features. In fact, symmetry and special ratios can be found throughout the natural world, and in the physical laws of nature and the universe.

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Topics: Expert Support, Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health

Targeting Better Heart Disease Prevention

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Jun 2, 2016 11:32:00 AM

Great news! A recently published study highlights and strengthens the evidence supporting a key principle and effective strategy in heart disease prevention. In this study1, published by the American Diabetes Association’s peer-reviewed journal Diabetes Care, Dr. Nathan Wong and colleagues demonstrate the tremendous health benefits of cumulative cardiovascular risk factor optimization.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Latest Science

Minnesota Coronary Experiment—Trying To See In A Blizzard?

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Apr 19, 2016 2:20:07 PM

I was startled last week by new research study findings that have unexpectedly “transported” me back to my own origins and fundamental assumptions. This study originated in Minnesota in the 1960’s—and so did I. The newly published results of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment, conducted nearly a half-century ago, have made headlines and raised uncertainty and controversy about how dietary intake causes heart disease and atherosclerosis.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Latest Science

What is the Best Diet for You?

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Nov 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

About 15 years ago, the Atkins Diet was starting to catch on like wild fire. I first learned about it from a doctor friend who said he was losing weight by eating mostly meat, cheese, and eggs. “You can’t lose weight on a high-fat diet” I insisted, but there really wasn’t much evidence to back me up. At that time, there were more than 1,000 diet books on the market which begged the question --Is one diet better than all the rest?

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Latest Science