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.

Comments (7) -

  • Neelesh

    1/15/2008 2:34:00 PM |

    This is curious, given that in his book 'The South beach heart program', Agatston talks quite a bit about "advanced blood tests", including LP(a),and lipoprotein subfractions. I wonder if hethinks otherwise now Smile

  • Nancy M.

    1/16/2008 5:41:00 PM |

    I ran into someone that met this doctor and she asked him what diet he eats, thinking he would be following his own.  Apparently he follows a more Paleo type of diet rather than those "healthy" whole grains he espouses in his books.

  • Dr. Davis

    1/16/2008 5:45:00 PM |

    Isn't that interesting!

    If I had to choose from a menu of popular diets that most closely approximates what we do in the Track Your Plaque program, it would be quite close to the Paleo Diet as articulated by Loren Cordain.

  • Roger

    1/21/2008 3:43:00 PM |

    I'm surprised by that.  The Paleo diet is an extraordinarily high meat-oriented diet (the author suggest that about 55% of calories will come from meat.)  Since dairy and soy are forbidden, almost all protein must come from meat, fish, or eggs.  The diet is similar to Atkins, except that the Paleo diet makes a nod to healthier fats like flax oil, which he suggests rubbing on lean meat before serving.

    On page 26 of his book, Cordain describes a 25 year old female who follows the Paleo diet.  He indicates that on a typical day she will get about 190 grams of protein.

    According to NutritionData.com, each of the following contain 190 grams of protein:

    31 large hard-boiled eggs

    1 lb. 11 oz of salmon

    1 lb. 8 oz of turkey

    1 lb. 8 oz of Sirloin

    1 lb. 8 oz pork chops

    Six 1/4 lb. hamburgers

    Basically, a pound and a half of meat.  Using the traditional "pack of cards" portion size (three ounces), a follower of the Paleo diet would be consuming eight portions of meat per day.

    I'm no vegetarian, but it's hard for me to imagine that meat in that quantity is necessary for good health.

  • Zute

    3/7/2008 7:40:00 PM |

    I just looked up where I heard about Agatston actually thinking Paleo is right diet to follow.  Here's a link to the thread where it was discussed:

    "It was a lecture geared towards health professionals....he spoke of how he believes in the Paleo diet(book) and that the ideal for us in our current state of evolution is a grain free diet.....really..he said that!!

    He also did not know that his Meal Plan Guide is telling us to add in cereal first in phase II....he said he would get that changed...it should be berries only...first...then starchy veggies.....whole grain last and after whole grain...then processed grain ie: flour/bread :idea:

    He also told me that they put whole grains into the plan so that it'd be easier for people to adapt to the plan....they know that people are addicted to grain and it would be too hard for most to give them up totally...me :wave: ;) He was trying to make the plan marketable to all and he felt that telling us to eat whole grain is better than what we were doing before...and he's right."

    See, this is where I have a problem with that sort of thinking.  Instead of telling you what is optimal for your health, they tell you what they think you'll comply with instead.  I think the ADA does that too.  The results of this are that people might be slightly healthier than if you did nothing but you're a long ways off from the health you could achieve if you were fully informed at the beginning.

    Some of us have the discipline to make the needed changes.  Dear Doctors, please don't assume we're all hopeless!

  • Ideal Scents LLC

    3/15/2010 4:09:29 AM |

    South Beach Diet in my opinion is awesome.  After Phase I you lose your cravings.  I have been into nutrition for over 30 years, and still need to lose a few pounds.  On this diet you eat healthy fresh foods, you don't have to eat any meat if you don't want to and if you're vegan it can work as well.

    One of the great things about it is you don't have to be manic, it's pretty simple. You are full eating lots of fiber from fresh veggies.   Those foods God planned for us to eat, instead of processed and over cooked foods.

    One thing you mentioned was the LPP test for heart disease, I have a question, why aren't M.D.'s requesting this test more often.  The docs who are requesting this are those who are both  N.D. M.D.'s, they look at the whole person not just one aspect.

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 6:46:50 PM |

    In addition, since I have been involved with cardiac CT for now nearly 24 years, the PLC also affords me an opportunity to develop a CT coronary angiography training program for cardiologists and radiologists (www.cardiaccta.us). Together, these new efforts are merely an extension of my interests in prevention, patient care, and teaching.