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"New scan best predictor of heart disease: MD"

Vancouver Sun

Source: Vancouver Sun

Published: 06 Jun 2022

Category: Diagnostic Test

Rating: (2 stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Test costs $690 and is available at just two Lower Mainland clinics

VANCOUVER - A controversial new early-screening method described as the single best predictor of future heart attacks gave Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell early warning of his heart disease.

The coronary artery calcification (CAC) test is available only at two private clinics in the Lower Mainland, although some public hospitals have been experimenting with the procedure, University of B.C. radiologist Dr. Bruce Forster said in an interview.

Forster is co-author of a paper on CAC screening in the B.C. Medical Journal's May issue and medical director at Canada Diagnostic Centres, which offers the test in Vancouver.

The painless CAC scan is "the single best predictor of future heart attack or coronary death," said Forster, who has tested about 2,500 people and wants large-scale population screening.

"We need an attitude shift. People are waiting for the heart attack to happen instead of trying to optimize their chances of not having the heart attack."

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 9
Availability of Test Satisfactory
Novelty of Test Satisfactory
Diagnostic Options Not Satisfactory
Disease Mongering Not Satisfactory
Evidence Not Satisfactory
Quantification of Diagnostic Accuracy/Benefits Not Satisfactory
Costs of Testing Not Satisfactory
Harms of Testing Not Satisfactory
Sources of Information Satisfactory
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This news piece on a diagnostic test discusses controversy over its predictive value but fails to provide any information that would allow the reader to judge this. The article clearly states the novelty of CAC and explains how it compares to angioplasty. However, very little other comparative information about other tests is provided. Nor is information on the evidence behind CAC presented. There is no information provided on harms or on rates of false negatives and false positives.

Quotes from the mayor are used to sell the procedure, with reference to his past work as a coroner. However, his expertise in measurement of outcomes of diagnostic testing is another issue - these are typical celebrity quotes.

The statement made about widespread population screening is premature and the lack of information about sensitivity and specificity is a important omission in this article.

Overall, the article began as an objective review of CAC, but ended by sounding like an advertisement.

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