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Read Original Story

Study: Heart attacks not cut by B vitamins

Rating

5 Star

Study: Heart attacks not cut by B vitamins

Our Review Summary

This story reports on several recent studies that fail to find benefit in terms of heart attack and stroke risk from the consumption of B vitamins by people with established vascular disease. Though the article was factually correct, it missed a golden opportunity to educate consumers about the difference between a disease outcome and a surrogate marker of the disease. In other words, homocysteine levels may be lowered by vitamin B use, but that may not make any difference on the outcome you really care about – risk of heart attack or stroke.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Since this story doesn’t make claims about efficacy, costs don’t seem applicable.

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

Satisfactory

We give this story a satisfactory score, but the story could have helped readers understand why measuring surrogate markers such as homocysteine levels can be different than tracking true outcomes such as heart attack or stroke. Here, the surrogate endpoint (homocysteine levels) “improved,” but the real endpoint – heart attack and stroke – did not.

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

Satisfactory

There is no discussion of any harms associated with consumption of vitamin B supplements, although such harms would occur from vitamin B intake unlike that studied, so this gets a satisfactory grade.

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

Satisfactory

Two of the three studies referred to in the journal article are detailed; a brief reference is given for the third.

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

Satisfactory

In addition to the discussion of the studies, a quote was pulled from an editorial in the journal that published the studies.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No other treatment options for lowering risk of heart attacks or strokes are mentioned.

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

Satisfactory

It’s clear from the story that B vitamins have been in use for some time by many people for these purposes.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

It’s clear from the story that B vitamins have been in use for some time by many people for these purposes.

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

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 7 of 8 Satisfactory

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