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Device improves heart’s pumping efficiency

Rating

2 Star

Device improves heart’s pumping efficiency

Our Review Summary

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.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

This story did not include any discussion of costs.

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

Not Satisfactory

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. 

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

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

Not Satisfactory

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%).

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

By profiling only one patient who is now “100 percent better” after cardiac resynchronization therapy, this story overhyped the treatment without referencing the evidence.

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

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.  

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

Not Applicable

The availability of cardiac resynchronization therapy is not in question.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

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.

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

Not Satisfactory

We can’t be sure of the extent to which the story may have been influenced by a news release.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory

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