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Heart study: Most angioplasties not needed

Rating

4 Star

Heart study: Most angioplasties not needed

Our Review Summary

The news that stents do not prolong life or prevent heart attacks in patients with stable heart disease came as a big surprise to many this week, as the results of a large randomized clinical trial were presented at the week's American College of Cardiology meeting and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. These latest results put the use of stenting under further scrutiny, as did the recent finding that coated stents actually increase the risk of clotting.

This story accurately reports on the availability and novelty of stenting as well as the design of the current study. Furthermore, the story does give the rate of heart attack or death as 19% within 7 years for both the stent and the medication group. In addition, the story clearly states that this study was done on patients at low risk, that is, those with stable heart disease.

However, while the story does describe the cost of stenting, it does not provide the cost of the medication for comparison. Although the study mentions the risk of clotting with drug-coated stents, this is not adequate information on harms of stenting and the study does not mention any possible harms of medication.

Overall, a good job working within the usual limitations of TV news.  

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

While the story does describe the cost of stenting, it does not provide the cost of the medication for comparison.

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

Satisfactory

The story does give the rate of heart attack or death as 19% within 7 years for both the stent and the medication group.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the study mentions the risk of clotting with drug-coated stents, this is not adequate information on harms. Furthermore, the study does not mention any possible harms of medication.

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

Satisfactory

The story adequately describes the design of the current study.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of heart disease. Furthermore, the story clearly states that this study was done on patients at low risk, that is, those with stable heart disease.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story only quotes one cardiologist not associated with the study and gives no rationale for why he was chosen. (Is it because he's in New York and readily available?) The story could have quoted other clinicians or experts who could have provided some valuable perspective on the impact of this new development on the management of heart disease.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story does mention medication as the alternative to stenting.

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

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that stenting is very common in the U.S.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that stenting is not a new idea.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes the lead author of the study and one physician who is not related to the study, the reader can assume the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory

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