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“Encouraging news about reversing heart disease”

Rating

1 Star

“Encouraging news about reversing heart disease”

Our Review Summary

This is an enthusiastic story about the results of the ASTEROID Trial, which showed that very high doses of Crestor (a statin) caused regression of atherosclerosis as shown on intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) in high risk patients. The story did not make clear that, while these results are intriguing, it is not clear that they will have any clinically meaningful impact on real cardiovascular outcomes, such as heart attack or death, compared to current practice. In fact, the story almost seems to makes leaps beyond what the evidence showed when it said, “The study was not big enough to detect changes in the numbers of heart attacks or strokes but evidence suggests that eliminating plaque should lower the risk.” There is no explanation of the availability of Crestor. Is it FDA approved? Is it on the market? The story can’t assume that everyone knows. The story also does not place the treatment within the context of other existing therapies. This is important given that the study did not compare the treatment to current practice – regular doses of statins. Although the story is based on trial results, so little information about the design of the trial is presented that the viewer has no basis on which to interpret the strength of the evidence. No harms or side effects are mentioned, which are likely to be significant given the high dose of the drug. No costs are mentioned and only a single source, the study’s lead author, is quoted. The lack of balanced information in this short story makes it very difficult for the viewer to be able to interpret the study results.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story never mentions costs.

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

Not Satisfactory

Quantitative estimate is provided in relative frame only. The lead author of the study says that 1 to 9% of the plaque was gone, but we have no context for these numbers, nor do we know if this is clinically meaningful.

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

Not Satisfactory

No harms or side effects are mentioned.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although there is mention of a trial, so little information is provided that the viewer cannot evaluate the strength of the evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There is no obvious disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

Only a single source, the lead author of the study, is quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Although there is mention of diet and exercise, there is no mention of the advantages/disadvantages of high-dose Crestor by comparison. There was also no mention of current practice – use of regular doses of statins.

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

Not Satisfactory

There is no explanation of the availability of Crestor. Is it FDA approved? Is it on the market? The story can’t assume that everyone knows.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not explain if the drug is new, old, investigational, or already approved.

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. But only the lead author is interviewed.

Total Score: 1 of 9 Satisfactory

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