The Nation's Health + South Beach Diet

Dr. Arthur Agatston in the news


The Miami Herald has a new report on Dr. Arthur Agagtston (of South Beach Diet fame) to announce his new book, The South Beach Heart Health Revolution:
The South Beach Diet doctor takes on cardio care

Agatston, the granddaddy of CT heart scanning, is always at least worth listening to. Although his diet may not be perfect, it clearly has jumped light years ahead of conventional diets like the inane American Heart Association diet. The South Beach Diet focuses on healthy oils, nuts, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits, while slashing grains (except in the often disastrous phase III).

The article lists Dr. Agatston's advice to achieve a "heart healthy" lifestyle:

• Maintain a healthy weight through diet.

• Undergo CT heart scans to check for arterial plaque.

• Do aerobic exercise, along with stretching and strengthening workouts.

• Ask your doctor about taking statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

We wouldn't have CT heart scan scoring (at least in its present form) without Dr. Agatston, who developed the algorithm for scoring years ago in the early days of heart scanning. We also need to credit him with putting together a rational diet despite the counter-information emanating from the Heart Association, the USDA (a la Food Pyramid, the one that makes Americans fat and diabetic), and the American Diabetes Association, among others.

But "Ask your doctor about taking statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs"? This is where Dr. Agatston begins to falter. While he is putting his enormous notoriety to use, his message is bland and ineffective. "Do aerobic exercise"? We don't need Dr. Agatston to tell us this.

As much as Art Agatston has added to the national conversation on heart disease and diet, he has failed to deliver the message of true heart disease prevention. His approach lacks just a few crucial ingredients like lipoprotein testing, diagnosis of hidden causes of heart disease (like Lp(a)), and vitamin D. (Two years ago I had a patient I saw for an opinion after he'd showed Dr. Agatston his lipoprotein panel. The patient said Dr. Agatston looked at the report and didn't know what to do with it and handed it back to him without comment. He then asked if he wanted his autograph.)

Anyway, the rising tide raises all boats. Agatston's repeated public endorsements of heart scans will help deliver the message that heart disease is detectable in its early stages and should trigger action to follow a heart disease prevention program .

That alone is an accomplishment in a world hell-bent on dragging us into the hospital for procedures.

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