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Read Original Story

Kidney, Heart Disease Spur Each Other

Rating

4 Star

Kidney, Heart Disease Spur Each Other

Our Review Summary

The story reports recently published data establishing a clear link between heart disease and decreased kidney function.  The story quotes the lead study author who advocates mass screening of kidney function. In the sidebar, the story suggests only screening patients with known risk factors, such as a relative with kidney disease, diabetes, or hypertension. The story does not talk about the lack of any national guidelines for screening. That might have helped emphasize the novelty of developing a population-based screening approach. Early screening may help doctors and patients stave off some of the effects of cardiovascular disease with medications to reduce blood pressure.

The story provides treatment options (medication) for managing early-stage chronic kidney disease and options for people who are making the decision for renal replacement if chronic kidney disease progresses to end-stage kidney disease (dialysis and transplant).  The story states that kidney disease patients are "terrified" of having to go on dialysis, but no patients are actually interviewed.  The story does give an explanation of the disease and how it affects the heart, but to say the kidneys “disintegrate” is not accurate.  

Finally, the story only provides one perspective, that of the study author whose work is highlighted in the story.  Interviews with primary care doctors or nephrologists, and possibly patients would be useful for balance in discussing the the pros and cons of routine screening for kidney disease in patients with and without known risk factors.

Generally, though, the story is well done.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story lists the costs for screening – "urine and blood tests that cost less than $25." 

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

Not Satisfactory

The story mentions some interventions for people with declining kidney function, but these are not quantified.  We are also not told if screening and subsequent monitoring and pharmacological interventions save lives, or how many people would need to be screened in order to makes such programs or practices cost effective.

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

Satisfactory

The story focuses on the benefits of detecting disease. They could have talked about the potential harms of mass screening (i.e. the need to draw blood or the possibility of false positives). While the story is not focused on blood pressure management, per se, we are told that ACE (angiotensin II receptor blockers) inhibitors are "good for the heart", but the story does not mention potential side effects of these medications.


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

Satisfactory

The story does an adequate job of explaining the evidence. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering but some of the language used is questionable. The story says chronic kidney disease (CKD)  patients are "terrified" of having to go on dialysis, but no CKD patients are actually interviewed.  The story does give an explanation of how kidney function works and how it can become impaired by heart disease, but to say the kidneys "disintegrate" with CKD is not accurate. 

 


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

Not Satisfactory

The story only provides one perspective, that of the study author whose work is highlighted in the story.  Interviews with primary care doctors and nephrologists, and possibly patients would be useful for balance and for discussion of the pros and cons of mass screening.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story provides treatment options (medication) for managing early-stage chronic kidney disease and options for people who are making the decision for renal replacement if chronic kidney disease progresses to end-stage kidney disease (dialysis and transplant).  

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

Satisfactory

It’s fairly clear from the story that the screening tests for kidney disease that are discussed are generally already available, although perhaps not used as much as some think they should be. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not talk about the lack of any national guidelines for screening. That might have helped emphasize the novelty of developing a population-based screening approach. Early screening may help doctors and patients stave off some of the effects of cardiovascular disease with medications to reduce blood pressure.

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

Satisfactory

Information in this story does not appear to be taken from a press release.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory

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