Tag Archives: cardiac health

New blood pressure guidelines for older adults stir controversy

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Jasleen Kaur via Flickr

Photo: Jasleen Kaur via Flickr

Adults age 60 and older often struggle to keep their blood pressure in check. Revised guidelines from two leading medical groups may make it a little easier, but not without drawing fire from other health professionals.

Critics argue that the new target for adults over age 60 is too high, and delayed treatment could put more people at risk. Continue reading

World Heart Day targets salt consumption, risk reduction

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

heartToday is World Heart Day – when the World Heart Federation and the World Health Organization highlight global efforts to raise awareness about the epidemic of cardiovascular diseases. The goal is to reduce cardiovascular-related mortality by a third over the next 15 years.

According to the WHO, more than 17 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2008, representing 30 percent of all deaths worldwide. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.3 million were due to coronary heart disease and 6.2 million were due to stroke. More than 80 percent of these deaths take place in low and middle-income countries. The WHO believes the number of cardiovascular disease deaths, mainly from heart disease and stroke, will increase to more than 23 million by 2030.

The CDC estimates that about 600,000 people die from CVD annually in the United States. It is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. About half (42.2 million) of the estimated 83.6 million people in the U.S. with some type of heart disease are age 60 or older, and two-thirds (66 percent) of CVD-related deaths occur in people age 75 or older. Continue reading

The pitfalls of made-for-media scientific research

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

In our archive, you’ll find plenty of discussion about how the rhythms and demands of the newsroom impact media coverage of science, but what about the other side of the coin?

lombardi-trophy

Photo by youraddresshere via Flickr

What about those odd times when it appears that scientific researchers and publishers time their releases to get the most attention from the mainstream media?

When that question was begged by the overwhelming attention given to a study of heart attacks during two 1980s Superbowls that just happened to be released in time for this year’s big game, “Dr. Wes” Fisher examined the study on his blog. In this case, it seems, a well-timed news hook by the study’s authors may have triumphed over solid research. As an anecdote for all the unquestioning, “will-ya-look-at-this!” headlines, Fisher offers a quick laundry list of the study’s shortcomings:

  • Selection bias
  • Contamination bias
  • Co-intervention bias
  • The use of diagnosis codes culled from death certificates

(Hat tip to R. W. Donnell)

Online guide focuses on covering medical studies

Covering Medical Research

Reporters are inundated with lures to cover the latest medical study or scientific conference paper. And there are some significant milestones being reached in medical research. But, more often, the information reaching the public is way too preliminary or even misleading, say those behind a new AHCJ reporting guide on covering health studies.

The guide will help journalists analyze and write about health and medical research studies. It offers advice on recognizing and reporting the problems, limitations and backstory of a study, as well as publication biases in medical journals and it includes 10 questions you should answer to produce a meaningful and appropriately skeptical report. This guide, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will be a road map to help you do a better job of explaining research results for your audience.