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Angioplasty’s golden era may be fading


5 Star

Angioplasty’s golden era may be fading

Our Review Summary

This was an informative story exploring how medical therapy alone stacks up against medical therapy plus angioplasty as a treatment for coronary artery disease.  It highlighted several important issues about medical practice and the treatment of coronary artery disease in particular.  While the story never fully described the importance of randomized clinical trials for establishing whether treatment approaches provide the benefit they are thought to convey, it was clear from this story that several recent studies have failed to demonstrate superiority of angioplasty as a treatment for coronary artery disease.  The story did mention that angioplasty is a beneficial treatment during a heart attack.  The point to be made here is that just because it is an effective way of treating a heart attack does not mean that it is an effective way of preventing a heart attack.

Overall, a solid job with independent analyses, context, and data.  


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The story provided cost estimates for angioplasty.  It would have been more complete to include comparable information about the costs of medical therapy.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story discussed the comparable outcomes of the two treatments in terms of heart attacks and death. It also explained that at least initially, angioplasty coupled with medical therapy provided relief of angina to more people (8%) than did medical therapy alone but that this difference between the treatments only lasted for 3 years.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not provide an explicit list of harms associated with either treatment.  It did mention the increased clotting risks associated with one particular type of stent (drug-coated).

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story mentioned several studies that compared people with coronary artery disease who were treated with angioplasty and medical therapy with those that received only medical therapy which found no difference in outcomes such as the numbers who had heart attacks. It also provided quantitative information about how the two treatment approaches compared in terms of symptom reduction

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


For the most part, the story did not engage in overt disease mongering.  That said, however, the story opened with a disease mongering vignette that involved medical protocols which were not the subject of the story.  And describing angina as "crushing" and "debilitating" makes it seem worse on the average than it really is.  However, the balance of the story did not use scare tactics when talking about coronary artery disease, and in using data to tell the story.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Several cardiologists were interviewed for this story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story covered two of the three treatment options for coronary artery disease.  It would have been a more complete piece if it had included mention of coronary bypass surgery.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story was about the use of angioplasty (stents) and medical therapy as compared to medical therapy alone as treatment for coronary artery disease.  From the discussion, it was clear that both treatments are currently in common use and appear to be widely available.


Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


It was clear from that the story was not about a novel form of treatment but rather a recent line of evaluation of two treatment approaches in current practice. 

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear this story didn’t rely on a news release; it was based on independent analyses.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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