This story reports on a randomized controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that cardiac resynchronization therapy is useful for preventing heart failure events in people with mild symptoms. However, the piece profiles only one satisfied study participant, instead of presenting a more accurate clinical picture of who may benefit from the therapy and to what extent. Including commentary from independent experts, as well as information on costs and the potential harms of the treatment would have also strengthened the story.
This story did not include any discussion of costs.
This story states that cardiac resynchronization therapy resulted in a 41% lower risk of heart failure-related events; however, also presenting the results in terms of absolute risk reduction would have been helpful.
The story does not discuss any of the potential harms of this treatment. For example, one patient who received the cardiac resynchronization device died from a pulmonary embolus.
The story briefly describes the methods of the New England Journal Medicine study; however, a more detailed discussion of the patient inclusion criteria would have been useful. Furthermore, one of the co-authors of the study is quoted as saying the group who used cardiac resynchronization therapy will not have the same mortality as those who use just defibrillators; however, the trial results do not support this statement. In fact, the mortality rate was slightly higher in the CRT group (3.3% vs. 2.5%).
By profiling only one patient who is now “100 percent better” after cardiac resynchronization therapy, this story overhyped the treatment without referencing the evidence.
This story does not provide comments from any independent sources. Additionally, it fails to point out that the study was funded by Boston Scientific, the manufacturer of the cardiac resynchronization device used in the trial.
This story indicates that cardiac resynchronization is an adjuvant therapy to a defibrillator and also mentions that medications can be used to treat people with symptoms of heart failure. However, the story comes up short in describing the alternatives, particularly when ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics, and salt reduction, are probably more important as a whole compared to cardiac resynchronization therapy.
The availability of cardiac resynchronization therapy is not in question.
The story indicates that cardiac resynchronization has been available to patients with moderate to severe heart failure, whereas this study evaluated its utility for preventing heart failure in people who have only mild symptoms.
We can’t be sure of the extent to which the story may have been influenced by a news release.