HEALTH IN THE MEDIA:

HEADLINES VS REALITY

HIGH DOSE FLU SHOTS IN THE ELDERLY REDUCE FLU BY 24%

Despite the headline that presented results in relative risk, in fact out of 1,000 people who received high dose flu shots 5 cases of flu, represented by the blackened seats, were prevented compared to 1,000 people who took standard dose flu shots.  There was no change in death or hospitalization.  The long term consequences/reactions from high dose shots are not yet established.

PRENVAR-13 PNEUMONIA VACCINE REDUCES PNEUMONIA BY 45%

In this single drug-company sponsored study, 1 person who received the Prenvar-13 vaccine, represented by the one blacked seat out of two theaters, avoided pneumonia out of 2,000 who took it compared to 2,000 people who took placebo.  There was no change in hospitalization or death.  The new vaccine was not compared to the more established vaccine  Pneumovax, but the articles stated correctly that the CDC suggests that elderly people receive both vaccines even though no study was ever done to compare them or determine how well they work together.  The articles only presented the relative risk reduction of 45% despite the much more modest absolute risk reduction.

THE USE OF PPI DRUGS LIKE PRILOSEC INCREASE RISK OF HEART ATTACK BY 16%

Despite the frightening sounding relative risk of using PPI (proton pump inhibitor) drugs, which is what was reported in the media, in fact out of 4,000 people who took PPI's compared to 4,000 people who did not, only 1 may have been at risk for a heart attack, represented by the single blackened seat in all four theaters.

IN ELDERLY PEOPLE WHO REDUCE THEIR SYSTOLIC BLOOD PRESSURE BELOW 120 THERE IS A 25% REDUCTION IN DEATH AND 43% LOWER CARDIAC DEATH

Despite the fact that several major newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post printed this on their front page, and suggested that guidelines would now have to be changed so that people push their blood pressure lower, in fact the study showed minimal benefit and some risk with aggressive blood pressure treatment, and contradicted many other studies.  CLICK HERE to see how this issue can be clarified with BRCTs so that doctors and patients can have a meaningful conversation about blood pressure control without resorting to the media hype.

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