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Heart failure therapy twice as effective in women


2 Star

Heart failure therapy twice as effective in women

Our Review Summary

The story didn’t deliver the numbers and the explanations to help readers evaluate the evidence.

It is not clear from the story what ‘a 70% reduction in heart failure compared with a 35% decline in men’ actually means.

The story went on to mention a ‘dramatic’ reduction in cause of death from any cause.  But what does that mean? How big is a ‘dramatic’ reduction?


Why This Matters

Heart disease (coronary artery disease) and heart failure are common, age-related conditions.  Providing readers with accurate information that they can use in their decision making process about treatments is valuable.  This story just didn’t click on all cylinders.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of costs. These things are not cheap.

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

Not Satisfactory

In this story, the ‘result’ of the combination device in men was described as ‘good’ as compared to women in whom the benefit was described as ‘fantastic’ .  What exactly was the ‘result’ the clinician was describing, and then how does ‘good’ compare to ‘fantastic’?  Is the difference statistically significant or clinically meaningful?

Similarly – ‘a dramatic reduction in heart failure events’ – what is the nature of these ‘events’ ?

And then lastly – opening with the information that women had ‘a 70% reduction in heart failure compared with a 35% decline in men’ fails to provide the reader with any insight about what was being measured and because only the relative change is presented rather than the absolute difference – readers have no idea about that actual size of the difference.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of potential harms from the use of the device.

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

Not Satisfactory

Other than providing the name of the trial (MADIT-CRT) and its source of funding (Boston Scientific) the story provided insufficient information to readers to help them evaluate the quality of the evidence.

It is not clear what ‘a 70% reduction in heart failure compared with a 35% decline in men’ actually means.  The writer probably meant reduction in heart failure related hospitalizations.  But without this information the statement is not able to be interpreted.

The story went on to mention a ‘dramatic’ reduction in cause of death from any cause.  While this seems like a potentially good thing – how big is a ‘dramatic’ reduction?

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

The story ended with disease mongering about the 42 million American women ‘living with heart disease’ in a story about heart failure, which, while it may fall under the rubric of heart disease, is only a subset of the vast 42 million.  The story then went on to share that ‘It’ is the ‘leading killer of women’. Why not simply provide heart failure stats, and heart failure stats by gender?

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

Not Satisfactory

No independent sources were cited or quoted.  The story did mention that the study reported on was funded by the manufacturer of the device discussed.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion about alternatives.

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


At the end of the story, it mentioned that what it earlier referred to as ‘a combination pacemaker and defibrillator device’ had had it use expanded by ‘U.S. regulators’ to include mild heart failure.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


It seemed clear from the story that the combination device was not new but that its use had recently been expanded.

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

Not Applicable

We’re going to rule this Not Applicable because it’s an odd case.

Different quotes are attributed to the researcher – some from “a statement” and some from a telephone interview.

We can’t be sure how much original reporting was done.

An older press release (June 2010) may have been the source for some of the information presented in this story.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory


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