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Moderate drinking may help men with high blood pressure

Rating

3 Star

Moderate drinking may help men with high blood pressure

Our Review Summary

This "brief" reports on the results of a study looking at alcohol consumption and risk for heart disease among men who have high blood pressure. That moderate alcohol consumption reduces heart disease risk is not a new idea, however recommending it in individuals with high blood pressure is controversial given that excessive alcohol can actually raise blood pressure. This study supports the idea that moderate amounts of alcohol can be just as beneficial to men with hypertenstion as it is for those who do not have high blood pressure.

The story adequately describes the strength of the existing evidence and points out some of the limitations, for example, that the results may not be generalizable to a broader population. However, the story should have also mentioned that any study using self-reported intake of food or drink is always prone to error in how consumption is measured.

The story does not quantify the benefits of moderate drinking. The story only provided qualitative descriptions of the benefits. Furthermore, the story does not mention any alternatives to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Finally, the story only quotes one expert, the lead author on the study. The story should have quoted multiple experts who could provide more perspective.

This "brief" is clearly designed to be so; an editorial decision by the Globe.  But there is only so much you can do in a 273-word story, and the limitations in such a word count were evident in this story. 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The story does not mention the cost of having one or two drinks a day, but most people know what the tab can be.  So we consider this criterion not applicable for this story.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story does not quantify the benefits of moderate drinking. The story only provided qualitative descriptions of the benefits.  Readers deserve the data in order to make their own judgments of the strength of the evidence.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story does mention excessive drinking as a harm (it could raise blood pressure), it does not mention any of the other potential adverse effects.

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

Satisfactory

The story adequately describes the strength of the existing evidence and points out some of the limitations, for example, that the results may not be generalizable to a broader population. The story should have also mentioned that any study using self-reported intake of food or drink is always prone to error in how consumption is measured.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The study does not exaggerate the prevalence or seriousness of heart disease.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes one expert, the lead author on the study. The story should have quoted multiple experts who could provide more perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any alternatives to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

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

Not Applicable

Clearly alcoholic drinks are available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The idea that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce cardiovascular disease is not a new one, however the story points out that it had never been advocated in those with hypertension.

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

Not Applicable

There is no way to know if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 3 of 7 Satisfactory

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