Interview with Steven Nissen, Cleveland Clinic’s Chairman of Heart Health


February is American Heart Health Month…


No better time to see how vital your heart health is…


Turns out, men need more reminders than women…


A recent Heart Health Survey by the Cleveland Clinic says men are LESS likely to take matters into their own hands…


Men are less likely than women to change their diet…


Even AFTER they’ve had personal experience with heart disease.



Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic is here to tell us why and what else you can do to take good care of your heart.


  • Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio is a cardiologist, researcher and patient advocate.




Fifty-two percent (52%) have tried a diet in the past year to potentially improve their heart health but chose the wrong diet. 


And, among individuals who either have heart disease or have family members with heart disease the number jumps to 68 percent – with women more likely than men to change their diet due to personal experience (74% vs. 62%).


Even though we know that a diet based on processed food, super-sized fast food, frozen food, fried food and all manner of snacks and desserts is not good for us – it is difficult for many to stick to heart healthy diet. 
Of those surveyed the biggest culprit of unhealthy eating is the convenience of vending machines and/or fast food restaurants followed by lack of time and social gatherings.
And, among those surveyed men are more likely to be negatively impacted by the convenience of unhealthy food options.
While most dietary plans tell you what you can’t eat (usually your favorite foods!), the most powerful nutrition strategies help you focus on what you can and should eat.
In fact, research has shown that adding certain foods to your diet is just as important as cutting back on others.
There are several practical and easy-to follow diet and lifestyle changes that can help significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack as well as improve your overall health and well-being.
·       Know your fats.  Recent research shows that trans-fats, also known as hydrogenated oils, are harmful, while monounsaturated fats particularly olive oil, appear healthy.
Both polyunsaturated (most vegetable oils) and saturated fats (milk and meat) are neutral. The conventional advice suggesting that saturated fats, such as butter, are harmful doesn’t seem to hold up to careful scrutiny.
·       Eat more unprocessed foods.  Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, fiber and decrease the number of desserts and sweets you eat to a few times per month.
·       Moderation is key.  You can drink alcohol – just be sure to imbibe in moderation.
·       Move!  Get moving and do it on a regular basis.
·       Maintain.  Maintain or work to achieve a healthy body weight.
·       Get cholesterol in check.  Be sure to get your cholesterol regularly.
    Nissen graduated high school from the Webb School of California and pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. He then went on to receive his medical degree from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor. He completed his internal medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Davis in Sacramento, thereafter completed his cardiology fellowship at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington.


  • Nissen produced the first images in humans in 1990 and began using IVUS to document the ubiquitous prevalence of coronary artery disease.Joining Cleveland Clinic in 1992, Nissen served as Vice-Chairman of the Department of Cardiology (1993–2002), Section Head of Clinical Cardiology (1992–2000) and Director of the Coronary Intensive Care Unit (1992–1997).


  • Starting with linked COX-2 inhibitors, such as Vioxx (rofecoxib) in 2001, Nissen was one of the first physicians to link it to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.  In 2003 Nissen led a Journal of the American Medical Association study, producing evidence that five weekly infusions of ApoA-I Milano/phospholipids complex, a synthetic form of HDL, can possibly remove significant amounts of plaque from coronary arteries. A few years later, in 2005, Nissen re-analyzed the data related to the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug Pargluva (muraglitazar,), an experimental type 2 diabetes drug. In 2006, Dr. Nissen and his co-investigators reported on The ASTEROID trial (A Study to Evaluate the Effect of Rosuvastatin On Intravascular Ultrasound-Derived Coronary Atheroma Burden).

Steven Nissen, MD, is the Chairman of the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.


He was appointed to this position in 2006 after serving nine years as Vice Chairman of the Department of Cardiology and five years as Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Cardiovascular Coordinating Center (C5), an organization that directs multicenter clinical trials.Dr. Nissen’s research during the last two decades has focused on the application of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging to study the progression and regression of coronary atherosclerosis. He has served as International Principal Investigator for several large IVUS multicenter atherosclerosis trials.


Specialty/Clinical interests: General cardiology, intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), diabetes and the heart, drug safety, coronary intensive care

Dr. Nissen has more than 35 years of experience as a physician. He is world-renowned for his work as a cardiologist, patient advocate and researcher. Equally as significant is his pioneering work in IVUS technology and its use in patients with atherosclerosis. 


Publications and Speaking: Dr. Nissen has written more than 350 journal articles and 60 book chapters, including many published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. In recent years, he has also written on the subject of drug safety and was the author of manuscripts highlighting concerns about medications such as Vioxx™, Avandia™, and muraglitazar.
He has testified in both the Senate and the House of Representatives on the topic of drug safety as well as the need to reform the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


As a physician/scientist, Dr. Nissen is often called on by pharmaceutical companies to consult on the development of new therapies for cardiovascular disease. He maintains a long-standing personal policy that requires these companies to donate all related honoraria directly to charity.

Dr. Nissen is currently the editor of Current Cardiology Report.  In 2007, he was listed as Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World – Scientists and Thinkers.”


He is heavily involved with the American College of Cardiology (ACC), serving as President from March 2006 to March 2007, a member of the ACC Executive Committee from 2004 to 2008, and spending 10 years as a member of the organization’s Board of Trustees. In addition, Dr. Nissen has served several terms on the Program Committee for the ACC Annual Scientific Sessions.


Dr. Nissen served as a member of the CardioRenal Advisory Panel of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for five years, and as chair of the final year of his membership. He continues to serve as a periodic advisor to several FDA committees as a Special Government Employee.

Dr. Nissen frequently lectures at national and international meetings. He has served as visiting professor, or provided Grand Rounds, at nearly 100 institutions. 
INTERVIEW with Dr. Steven Nissen
This interview is courtesy of Cleveland Clinic.
mariabiancodorfner3   Maria Dorfner is the founder of NewsMD Communications and MedCrunch, a division of Healthy Within Network (HWN).


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