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CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Arthur Agatston, M.D., preventive cardiologist and author of "The South Beach Diet" book series, has joined Baptist Health Medical Group as medical director of wellness and prevention for Baptist Health South Florida, announced Brian E. Keeley, president and CEO.
“The addition of Dr. Agatston to our clinical wellness and preventive medicine team will allow us to further our mission of helping the community become healthier,” Mr. Keeley said. “Thanks to his research, and the work of other experts, we now better understand that adopting a healthy lifestyle lowers our risk for many diseases.”
“Baptist Health has a vision that has put it far ahead of many organizations in terms of health and wellness,” Dr. Agatston said. “Its employee wellness program, Wellness Advantage, has been recognized nationally as an award-winning venture. The idea is to bring this corporate health culture to the entire community. And the move is a tremendous opportunity for me to broaden my research, educate the public and continue to see patients. Together, we will make wellness a priority in healthcare in South Florida.”
As a preventive cardiologist, Dr. Agatston said he focuses on the essentials of eating well, exercising and not smoking — all ways to help prevent the chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity that can raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. On CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: The Last Heart Attack, Dr. Agatston told viewers, “One of the best-kept secrets in the country in medicine is that doctors who are practicing aggressive prevention are really seeing heart attacks and strokes disappear from their practices. It’s do-able.” He will continue to provide services to patients from his existing office in Miami Beach at 1691 Michigan Ave., Suite 500, which is now a Baptist Health Medical Group facility.
A renowned preventive cardiologist, Dr. Agatston developed with Baptist Health’s Warren Janowitz, M.D., the Agatston Score, which is used throughout the world and considered one of the best predictors of heart disease because it measures the calcium build-up in the coronary arteries. Dr. Agatston is a graduate of New York University School of Medicine. He completed his medical residency at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in New York and a cardiology fellowship at New York University. He is a professor at the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Agatston has published more than 100 scientific articles and abstracts in medical journals. His books, which in addition to The South Beach Diet, include The South Beach Heart Program: The 4-Step Plan that Can Save Your Life, and The South Beach Wake-Up Call, have sold more than 23 million copies worldwide.
After founding the nonprofit Agatston Research Foundation, he implemented the Healthier Options for Public School Children (HOPS) initiative. The published work – carried out with more than 13,500 school-age children and then brought to some 50,000 kids nationwide – showed that after dietary intervention, children’s weight, blood pressure and academic test scores improved compared to children without the HOPS process.
Dr. Agatston’s approach to prevention includes the principles of good nutrition, such as eating healthy fats and complex carbs, plenty of fiber, vegetables and lean proteins. Routine exercise and sleep are also emphasized.
“In addition, it’s important to know the patient’s full health picture to determine a treatment plan,” he said. “We must look carefully at family history, whether a patient has diabetes or metabolic syndrome, whether they put on weight around their waist or hips, their triglyceride levels, blood pressure and more — not just one number like cholesterol.”
“Having previously worked with Dr. Agatston, I know he has a long history of leadership in cardiovascular risk factor identification and prevention,”
Barry Katzen, M.D., medical director of Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute, added, “Dr. Agatston brings another dimension to our team that has always enjoyed multidisciplinary collaboration. The focus on wellness and prevention is of foremost importance throughout Baptist Health.”
Ted Feldman, M.D., medical director of the South Miami Heart Center, said, “Dr. Agatston is a master clinician, prolific researcher, successful author and a committed educator. I look forward to a very successful partnership as Baptist Health’s Wellness and Prevention program becomes a leader in bringing innovation and improved outcomes to 21st century healthcare by adopting an aggressive prevention paradigm.”
“As a lipidologist and preventive cardiologist, I welcome the addition of Dr. Agatston to our community,” said Jonathan Fialkow, M.D., medical director of EKG, the Stress Lab and Cardiac Rehabilitation at Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute. “He will be a wonderful resource for us and help us better reach those who will benefit from early detection of heart disease and diabetes as well as general lifestyle improvement.”
“Wellness, preventive medicine and primary care are the future of medicine, and Baptist Health is at the forefront of that initiative,”
Baptist Health wellness initiatives are based on Baptist’s mission to “improve the health and well-being of individuals and to promote the sanctity and preservation of life.” They incorporate three main components: Community Health, Corporate Wellness and Wellness Advantage.
Community Health encompasses a myriad of programs that bring awareness of a healthy lifestyle and prevention to people in South Florida. These include hundreds of health fairs, screenings and seminars on diet, exercise, weight management, stress reduction, heart disease, diabetes and numerous other medical topics, as well as sponsorships of community events.
Wellness Advantage, which aims to make Baptist Health employees the healthiest workforce in America, includes healthy food choices in Baptist Health cafeterias, the free use of on-site gyms, behavior change programs, “care hours” that provide free medical care for minor injuries and illnesses, and health risk assessments in addition to seminars and screenings.
Under the Corporate Wellness program, Baptist Health partners with local businesses to bring these services to their employees and help manage the well-being of the workforce.
About Baptist Health Medical Group:
Baptist Health Medical Group, headed by Corporate Vice President Jack Ziffer, Ph.D., M.D., provides organizational structure and leadership for the more than 100 doctors employed by Baptist Health in family medicine and other specialties, including cardiology, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, gastroenterology, orthopedic surgery and sports medicine.
Baptist Health Medical Group is part of Baptist Health South Florida, the largest faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization in the region. It includes Baptist Hospital, Baptist Children’s Hospital, Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute, South Miami Hospital, Homestead Hospital, Doctors Hospital, West Kendall Baptist Hospital, Mariners Hospital in Tavernier and a variety of outpatient locations in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. Baptist Health Foundation, the organization’