A “Decade with Dave” – Mark your calendars

Hennepin Healthcare’s Clinic and Specialty Center

Wow.  Healthy Matters is in the midst of our 10th year on the air on WCCO Radio.  I am celebrating 10 years of joining many of you – over the airwaves – for breakfast, coffee, and some fun health and wellness chat.

To celebrate this “Decade with Dave” my Hennepin Healthcare crew and I are planning a really special event – a LIVE broadcast of Healthy Matters from our Clinic and Specialty Center in downtown Minneapolis.

We have never done anything like this before!

The show will be at its usual 7:30 am time on Sunday, June 10.  What I hope for is to fill the atrium of the Hennepin Healthcare Clinic and Specialty Center with Healthy Matters listeners.   I’ll have some of our favorite expert guests attending so you can meet them.  We’ll do a Q&A, check out the new building, and have coffee together. So mark your calendars for Sunday, June 10, and register for this free event by going to www.hennepinhealthcare.org/here4health to RSVP for the “Decade with Dave” celebration – seats will be limited!

Until then, I have a request . . .

Over the past “Decade with Dave” I have heard countless stories of listeners.   Among them:

  • Several of you come to the Minnesota State Fair every summer to hear the show live.
  • There was the person who listened to the live stream of the show from South Africa.
  • One patient at HCMC specifically informed the paramedics that he wanted to go only to HCMC because he was a loyal Healthy Matters listener.
  • Loads of you have told me that you listen to the show while getting ready for church.

So I want to hear your Healthy Matters story. To do so, please leave me a comment in the “Reply” section below.  Tell me where you listen from, or what church you attend when listening, or if you listen online, or the strangest place you have listened from, or anything else you want to share.

I’ll talk about some of our stories on the air in the coming months!

Here’s to you, my friends and listeners,

David  (aka host of Healthy Matters, aka the “Dave” part of “Decade with Dave”)



Our 400th radio show!

DRH 400This Sunday morning, September 4, at 7:30, Denny Long and I will take to the veranda at the WCCO Radio booth at the Minnesota State Fair.  It will be our 16th time doing a show live from beneath the shadow of the Giant Slide and sandwiched between Sweet Martha’s cookies and the Ye Olde Mill.  But more significantly, it will be the 400th Healthy Matters radio broadcast.

That’s right.  Since our first broadcast in January 2009, we have done 399 one-hour shows and I tell you what – we’re going to keep doing it until we get the hang of it!  The 400th attempt will be on Sunday which just so happens to be one of our popular State Fair shows.

So consider this your invitation to join Denny and me on Sunday morning!  Last week we had a pretty good crowd at the radio booth around the corner of Underwood and Carnes, and that was only for the 399th show, small potatoes compared to the awesome-ness of the 400th show.

Love this Tweet from my awesome friends at HCMC (hint – hit the play button on the picture):


So come to the fair on Sunday, Minnesota (and Wisconsin, and Iowa, and North Dakota, and South Dakota, or where ever you are from . . . last week we had a wonderful woman from San Diego . . .).  If you ask a medical question live on the air, I just may have a special gift for you, one never knows . . . !  

As life-changing and memorable as it will be to be in the audience for the 400th show on Sunday, there is LOTS more to do at the Fair.  Here’s a recap of some cool activities related to medicine. Continue reading “Our 400th radio show!”


Every 8 seconds: the science of brain injury with Dr. Uzma Samadani

There’s big news from HCMC this week.  Many know that HCMC is the largest provider of TBI care in the state of Minnesota.  But many don’t know that we are also a major research institution and in no area is this more true than TBI.

The big news is that our researchers are launching the largest single-center study of brain injury in the United States.  It’s been all over the news – check out the buzz this is getting in the national media.

But I don’t have to go to the national media, I just have to walk down the hall to talk with people who are quite literally the country’s leading researchers.  So I dropped by the laboratory of Dr. Uzma Samadani (<–click for her bio) here at HCMC.  She’s super cool even when I gave her only 10 minutes notice before showing up in her office!  Check out the short video clip above – and be sure to listen to the end to hear Dr. Samadani’s important advice about protecting kids from concussion/TBI.  For a more in-depth perspective from Dr. Samadani, click on the TedMed video below (it’s only 6 minutes long).

Eye tracking

Every 8 seconds someone has a traumatic brain injury.  But you may be surprised to learn that doctors really don’t have great answers to the most basic questions like:

Do I have a brain injury?  How bad is it?  Where is it in my brain?

That is what the researchers hope to answer.

Shakira’s hips

Shakira’s hips?  Huh?  Rather than have me try to explain it – watch this brief talk by Dr. Samadani herself.  It is fascinating.

So Dr. Samadani and her team are doing research based on the knowledge that you can actually track the movements of a patient’s eyes to help answer these questions.  As it is now, doctors wave their finger in front of a patient like we have been doing for centuries.  The researchers are hoping to change that by studying all sorts of ways to diagnose brain injury – using blood tests, eye tracking, and imaging (x-rays and pictures and the like) . The eye tracking technology in particular could be game-changing in the way we diagnose and treat brain injury.  For more on eye tracking, click here.

I am convinced that some day the research being done right here at Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota will change the lives of millions of people.

That excites me!


Procreative success and Blue Zones: Dr. Meghan Walsh visits the studio

Procreative success and Blue Zones?  The whole thing sounds like it may not be suitable for discussion in mixed company.  But rest assured, it’s all good, nothing indelicate going on here.  This is a post about living long and living well.  Please read on . . .

On my HealthyMatters radio broadcast last Sunday, we talked a great deal about keeping your heart healthy – after all, it was Valentine’s Day and I’m not above doing a cheesy tie-in between chocolate hearts and actual cardiac health.  I’m sentimental like that.  But good thing I brought someone to keep me from milking the sappy heart analogies too much . . . Meghan studio

To help me out, I asked my super smart good friend Dr. Meghan Walsh to join me – you’ll want to click on the Listen to Podcasts link on the right to hear her advice about broken heart syndrome, aka stress cardiomyopathy, and other heart topics.  She’s a hospitalist (cares for people in the hospital) with a focus on cardiology – in other words she totally knows what is going on when you have a heart problem.  And she should know a thing or two about keeping it healthy.  Too bad she hails from “the wrong side of the tracks” (which to a Minnesotan like me means she’s from Wisconsin).

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about living longer and living well.  I talked about “Living to 100” on TV last week , I wrote my last blog post on “Living to 100,” and I just worked a week in the hospital where I pronounced the deaths of two people and cared for several more in the last weeks of their lives.  Let’s just say longevity is on my mind.  So Meghan and I talked about not just heart health, but how to actually live longer in general.  And during the show, she brought up the concept of Blue Zones.

Say what?  Blue what?

Well it turns out some cool people have looked all around the world and located little pockets where people actually do live a good deal longer than the rest of us.  And they do so with vigor and purpose and vitality.  This intrigued me, and having looked into it more, I’d like to share it with you.  Read on for more . . .

So what the heck is a Blue Zone?

Turns out there is a guy from Minnesota named Dan Buettner who worked with National Geographic to identify areas in the world where people actually live longer than the rest of us – and then to try to figure out how they are doing it.  I haven’t met Dan but I’d sure like to.   He called these areas Blue Zones:blue zones


After studying these areas, where people routinely live longer than in most other communities (even living to 100 and beyond), the researchers learned some key factors – and none of them required fad diets or going to the gym!  He wrote a book by that name and he’s given some really engaging talks about it.  They will really get you thinking:

In his work on Blue Zones, Dan Buettner learned that these 5 communities shared 9 important characteristics, grouped into 4 categories.    Note that all of this is his work, not my own – I want to give appropriate credit –  but I’m going to paraphrase them here and include how some of it makes sense in my own life.  Maybe it will in yours as well.

And you’ll just have to read to the end to learn about procreative success.

Move naturally

  1.  Moderate, regular physical activity.

Communities in which people live the longest tend to be quite active, but it is not through intentional exercise – at the gym or anywhere else.  Rather, they structure their communities and routines so that movement is a routine part of daily life, not scheduled like we do.  Gardening.  Taking the stairs.  Regular hikes for leisure.  Mix the cake batter by hand rather than use the mixer.  Stuff like that.

Right outlook

2.  Life purpose

The Okinawans of Japan have a saying  – ikigai – which basically is the reason you get up every day.  The Blue Zone researchers found that having a sense of purpose is worth 7 years of extra vigorous life expectancy.  So many of us, however, retire from our jobs somewhere in our mid-60s, then try to figure out what to do that feels meaningful after that.  But Dan found that really old people in Japan still maintained a sense of life meaning – be it fishing, holding great-great-great grandchildren, or doing martial arts.

Here in Minneapolis, this week I admitted to the hospital a woman in her 80s who broke her hip while playing volleyball. Her goal was to get well enough to get back to her active life.   The take-home point is not that she broke her hip; that was an acceptable risk to her.  The take-home point is that she was out playing volleyball.  Awesome.   (Full disclosure – I changed a couple bits of her history to protect her privacy – but the message is the same).

3.  Stress reduction

People who live longer tend to know how to chill out.  They do this in ways that are meaningful to them, something we could all learn to do.

I’m about as Type A as they come and tend to talk too quickly, move too quickly, eat too quickly.   Guilty as charged.  When walking around Lake Harriet with Julie, my wife, she often grabs my hand.  I like to think it is for romantic reasons, but as she points out, it’s to keep me at a pace that doesn’t require her to jog to keep up.  So calming down is not a strength of mine.  But I do try.  Like live classical music concerts.  For me, a heavenly evening is spending an evening at Orchestra Hall listening to the Minnesota Orchestra.  I don’t talk to many – or any – people since I usually go alone.  For my wife, and many of my colleagues who are doctors, stress reduction means a ritualized practice of meditation.  For you it may be something else.  But we need to learn to sloooooooow down.

(Quick aside – we recently did a HealthyMatters show on meditation with a cardiologist colleague of mine, Steve Goldsmith, and a Buddhist master, Marc Anderson.  Listen to the podcast here).

Eat wisely

4.   Moderate calories intake

This is one I’ve been harping on for years when giving my own presentations on living long.  Portions sizes today = obscene!  Believe me, when you go to one of those big sports bar restuarants, you know the kind with 98 big screen TVs lining the walls, there is nothing OK about the size of that plate of food.  There just isn’t.  There are enough calories on that plate for two or even three meals.  Eating less is something we can and should do – and there are tips to help.  Like reminding yourself before every meal to stop eating when you are 80% full like the Okinawa folks.  Or putting the food on the plate in the kitchen, rather than serving family style at the table where you are tempted to take more helpings.  Or just use a smaller plate.  Simple as that.

5.  Plant-based diet

I’m sorry if you are in the meat-producing business, but I have to say it.  It is pretty clear that we need to eat, as I say, “lower on the food chain.”  Plants and legumes should be the mainstay of our diets – and the more colorful, the better!  The dark green, rich red, and bright orange ones are best.  This is pretty well established advice.  If you do eat meat, make it lean and in much smaller portions than we are used to.  The meat – if present at all – should be the size of a deck of playing cards.  The veggies, whole grains, and legumes should take up most of the real estate on your plate.

6.   Moderate alcohol intake, mostly wine

A glass or two of wine daily is probably reasonably good for you, at least if you look at the communities where people are living a long time.  Many of us doctors have been saying this for years, and there is some evidence to back it up.  After all, people in Provence seem to do OK with it.  I always qualify this recommendation, however, because it just isn’t for everybody.  For instance, if you have alcohol dependence or addiction to alcohol or other substances, certainly this is a really, really bad idea for you.  And as a doctor, I see people all the time who drink 7 drinks on a Saturday night, thus averaging out to one per day for that week.  Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

Right tribe

7.   Engagement in spirituality or religion

This is a common theme in the Blue Zone communities.  People who live to 100 typically are part of a spiritual community of some sort.  And they aren’t hit-or-miss about it – they show up several times per month for some sort of spiritual connection.

I was in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur last year.  Talk about honoring the holy days – the entire city shut down in what seemed to me a collective nod to the spiritual.  And my Muslim friends pray faithfully many times a day.  And Christians like the Adventists of Loma Linda reverently keep the Sabbath.  Just examples – your faith traditions may be vastly different and that is OK, but the idea of regular spiritual engagement as a factor in how long you live – well that intrigues me.

8.  Engagement in family life

Communities in which people live to 100 tend to be very family-centric.  They take care of both their children and their aging parents.  Old people are honored in the family.  It turns out that taking care of your family makes you live longer.  A good read about this is Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.  I recommend it.

9.   Engagement in social life

Isolation isn’t good for you.  That seems to be clear.  This makes sense to me – particularly in our culture where our “friends” may well be people we barely know on our social media accounts.  Watch the TedTalk that I referenced earlier in this post and learn of the close-knit group of people in Okinawa who are life-long companions throughout the life journey of the group.  Through good and bad.  Wow.

When I was in medical residency we had a group of friends that hung out regularly to de-stress, commiserate, laugh.  We called ourselves the “Plexus” a name whose origin is a long and probably boring story.  Meghan Walsh was part of the Plexus.  But the group sort of scattered after our residency at Hennepin County Medical Center though some of us have stayed in touch.  Our friends come and go sometimes.  Not a good thing, perhaps.

Meghan and me studio

Here’s Meghan and me at the studio – the remnants of the Plexus.  (And now if I could just lose that gut . . . !)

OK, as promised . . .  what is procreative success?  Sounds like something good, eh?

According to Dan Buettner, this is the genetic goal, if you will.  It means that we are programmed to see our children and our children’s children and if we do, that’s considered success, at least evolution-wise.  So all this longevity talk – well, evolution and our genes have little to say about that.

So look to the Blue Zones for help.



Ready to launch . . . HCMC radio doc blog is here!

Welcome to MyHealthyMatters!

So where exactly do you get your health information?  Your doctor?  The evening news?  Your Aunt Mildred, you know, the one with the bunion and all the answers?   Maybe you just Google it.  Cable news channels (oh, please)?  The government?  Maybe the insurance companies, since they must have your best interest in mind.   How about just asking your Mom – she was probably right all along, anyway.

I hope to helpDRH HCMC Helistop, just a little.  Let me introduce myself, and explain why I am standing on a helicoptor pad on top of a building overlooking downtown Minneapolis.  (Hint – you can tell it is Minneapolis in winter by the utter lack of sunshine).

My name is David Hilden.  I’m a real doctor, serving the good people of Minnesota and beyond at Hennepin County Medical Center (hereafter known as “the Mother Ship”) in downtown Minneapolis.  We are the largest Level I trauma center in town, as well as a shining example of what health care can really look like at a safety net hospital.   Continue reading “Ready to launch . . . HCMC radio doc blog is here!”