(CNN) — a Miami cardiologist and author of the best-selling South Beach diet books.
Agatston says relatively new imaging tests give real-time pictures showing whether plaque is building up in key blood vessels, alerting doctor and patient to an increased risk of a potentially deadly heart attack.
“Unless you do the imaging, you are really playing Russian roulette with your life,” he said.
Agatston invented one of the imaging tests, the coronary calcium scan, which looks at plaque in the arteries leading to the heart. Plaque in these arteries is a red flag for a potential heart attack. (Agatston does not make any money from the coronary calcium scan.)
The other imaging test Agatston recommends is an ultrasound of the carotid artery, looking at plaque in the main blood vessel leading to the brain. Plaque in the carotid artery is a sign of increased risk for a heart attack and stroke.
Both tests are non-invasive and outpatient, although the calcium scan does expose the patient to the equivalent of several months of normal background radiation.