Started during the yoga class. She felt a strange unpredictable neck, a feeling absolutely unfamiliar to her. Her friend suggested that I immediately go to the emergency room. It turned out to be a heart attack.
The patient did not fit into the stereotype of a person who is likely to have a heart attack. He accomplished, did not smoke and took care of his diet; however, after reviewing his medical history, I discovered that cholesterol levels are very high. He was prescribed statins for cholesterol reduction, but he never paid attention to his prescription due to the dreadful things he had read on the internet for these drugs. He was a victim of a state that quickly became a pandemic of the modern era: false medical news.
Although misinformation has received much attention in the political sphere, medical misinformation can lead to even greater losses. As with the false news in general, medical lies tend to have a greater touch on the Internet than the real ones and have quite realistic repercussions.
Many studies have shown this
Benefits from statins far outweigh the risks, especially in those at high risk of heart disease. However, these drugs have become the target of an inadequate online group that includes paranoid fanatics, people who sell alternative therapies and those who just want to get clicks. The incalculable number of websites and publications in social networks exaggerate the risks that are actually rare and encourage unsubstantiated claims, stating that statins cause cancer and suggest that low cholesterol levels are harmful to health.
The 2016 study found that even items that were limited to measuring the risks and benefits of statins were associated with patients who stopped the treatment for cholesterol reduction, which is associated with an increase in the incidence of heart attacks.
False medical information can also cause
patients have greater side effects due to the "night-effect". Sometimes, patients improve with surgery only because they think it will be; it's the effect
placebo. The effect
night this is the opposite: patients can have side effects only because they were destined to experience them. The same thing happens with statins. In double-blind experiments, patients treated with statins are not more likely to report muscle pain than those taking placebo. However, according to a study, in clinical practice, almost one-fifth of statin-taking patients report side-effects, causing many to stop taking medication.
What other goal has false news in your mind? As always, vaccines. According to the wrong story this year became viral, the epidemiologist's corpus in one of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was found in the river after he expressed concern about the influenza vaccine. Last week, Mark Green, a doctor from Tennessee, newly elected in Congress, repeated it
a widespread lie that vaccines can cause autism (later said his comments were "misinterpreted").
False concerns that the human papilloma vaccine causes seizures and other side effects reduced coverage rates in Japan from 70 percent to less than 1 percent in recent years. Those who use the polio vaccine in Pakistan are often attacked by militants, believing the vaccine is intended to sterilize the locals.
Cancer is another major goal of those who promote medical misinformation; Many of them earn money with alternative therapies. A false article reads: "Although many people believe that carcinogenic tumors are bad, in reality it is the way the body is trying to prevent harmful cells." This news suggests that a surgical operation "implies a risk of spreading harmful cells" and warns that "prescription drugs cause an increase in acidity in the body, which increases uncontrolled cell mutations."
In the study of 2017 it was found that when cancer patients turn into alternative therapies such as diets, herbs and supplements rather than conventional therapies, they are 2.5 times more likely to die. By harnessing the fear of people, those who deter patients from treating evidence, their hands are broken.
Doctors and nurses often try
discourage patients from looking for answers online. However, patients continue to consult with Google about their symptoms and medication because there is no need to schedule appointments or wait a long time for the internet, there is no rush, the network does not make judgments, does not require a major refusal and often gives information that seems easy to understand
The Silicon Valley must take care of this problem. I am not a lawyer specializing in freedom of expression, but when human health is at risk, maybe search engines, social networking sites and websites should be responsible for promoting or hosting false information.
The scientific community must make its public education role for key research concepts, such as the difference between observational studies and high-quality randomized studies. Transparency is essential to maintaining public confidence, and news such as showing that researchers from the National Institutes of Health have sought and received funding from the alcohol industry to conduct a study of the benefits of moderate intake demonstrating how quickly that confidence can be undermined .
Finally, journalists can do a better job of distributing accurate information. Randomized controlled studies are more likely to be covered by news sites, perhaps because they are less likely to generate surprising results. This type of coverage can exaggerate the benefits by providing, for example, that statins can cure cancer or help men get erections; It can also exaggerate the emphasis on potential risks, such as suggesting a fraudulent correlation with dementia. (Although a small number of people appear to have episodes of temporary memory failure after taking statins, no randomized controlled trials found a link between drugs and cognitive failures, and certainly not between him and dementia).
However, presenting the facts may not be enough. On
A boomerang effect, in which people are burying even more with false beliefs when presented with facts, can also appear when the wrong medical concepts are produced. To convince my patient that the statin is best for her, I did not only give her clinical data, but shared the personal story: after my father had a heart attack, I asked his doctors to begin immediately. statin treatment and the highest dose. I told the patient that although statin can not guarantee that there will be no other heart attack, I wanted my father to have the best chance of a healthy life. Then he agreed to take the recipe.
To have the slightest chance of winning the information war, doctors and researchers must weave our stories with scientific facts. This is the only way to bridge the gap that open between medicine and the masses, and it is now exploited by merchants with medical misinformation.
Haider Varahi is a researcher for heart failure and transplantation at the Duke University Medical Center