Wellness Expert Interview with Harvard Cardiologist & Founder of Wikidoc.org, Dr. Michael Gibson
I’m thrilled to have done an interview with Dr. Michael Gibson for the Blooming Wellness Expert Short-Interview series. Dr. Gibson is an interventional cardiologist, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, leader of his own academic research team, PERFUSE, and is considered the cardiologist who pioneered our understanding of the “Open Artery Hypothesis.” He is also the Chief of Clinical Research in the Cardiovascular Division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School and is founder and chairman of the board of WikiDoc Foundation, which is the world’s largest medical textbook / encyclopedia and has over 896 million views a year. Dr. Gibson is on the editorial board of Circulation, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology Interventions, Cardiac Catheterization and Intervention and the American Heart Journal. In 2011 he was voted as one of America’s Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Report. ( A lot of this introduction was shamelessly lifted from his Wikipedia page, which is really impressive, so if you want to learn more about Dr. Gibson’s background and awards, check it out here. ) He also is a fan of Blooming Wellness ,so I was super happy to hear that! Of course since he is the heart expert, I asked him questions about heart health and prevention. Enjoy!
Dr. Eeks: Since you are the heart expert, what is the best diet to follow for a healthy heart? ( Low fat, low calorie, High protein/low carb, etc…)
Dr. Gibson: There is conflicting data out there, but as someone at risk of metabolic syndrome (like so many people), I find a high protein / low carb diet helps keep the pounds off and improves my lipids.
Dr. Eeks: I recently read that deaths from CAD ( Coronary Artery Disease) are increasing in women under the age of 55? Is this accurate and if so, why?
Dr. Gibson: In the US that may be true, probably due in large part to smoking. Virginia Slims may have enticed women with “You’ve come a long way baby,” but women really come a long way through smoking cessation. In the developing world, as they take on Western diets, coronary artery disease is increasing in prevalence among women.
Dr. Eeks: A lot of people take supplements like fish oil or Coenzyme Q10 as heart prevention? Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr. Gibson: Fish oil has been documented in a large study to improve outcomes if you have heart failure, but as prevention, it is not as effective to date. Co Q10 may improve mitochondrial metabolism and was associated with improved heart failure outcomes. It is also helpful in some studies in improving muscle aches from statins. Again, not as much data to support use in prevention.
Dr. Eeks: In your opinion, what is the best way to alleviate stress?
Dr. Gibson: I am an artist and I also engage in mindfulness. Both are great stress busters. Laughter is, of course, the best medicine 🙂
Dr. Eeks: As the cost of healthcare rises, prevention is key. A lot of prevention is encouraging individuals to take steps to live healthier lives. Do you have any tips (1-3) for an individual struggling to make a healthier change in his or her life?
2. Eat a balanced diet
3. Don’t smoke
Dr. Eeks: Is it better to do strength training or cardio for heart prevention?
Dr. Gibson: I don’t know of any study data off hand that compares the two. Be careful with excessive exercise if you have “athletes heart” (known thickening of the heart muscle, or a family history of sudden death) or a blocked aortic valve.
Dr. Eeks: I also read that taking an afternoon nap is heart healthy. Is that true?
Dr. Gibson: Reduced sleep can put you at risk of obesity, so there may be truth to it if you are trying to play catch up.
Dr. Eeks: Do you have a favorite diet, fitness or lifestyle tip that helps you maintain a healthy life?
Dr. Gibson: To reduce stress I work many hours each weekend during the summer in my garden and I paint throughout the year. I limit my food portions and try to avoid processed sugars both of which improves my energy. I read and engage in mindfulness.
Dr. Eeks: Can inhaling particulate matter via air pollution lead to heart disease?
Dr. Gibson: It can trigger a heart attack. You can read all about heart attack triggers here
Dr. Eeks: If you could change one thing about the world to make it a healthier place, what would it be?
Dr. Gibson: I am obviously working to improve access to free medical information at www.wikidoc.org. We also need to reduce poverty, reduce stress, improve access to healthy foods, reduce “food deserts”, improve access to healthcare, improve access to public health measures such as vaccines, improve sanitation and access to high quality drinking water, reduce violence against women and children, and improve mental healthcare.
What is your attitude towards statins?