Heart scans: the triumph of profit over science

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

This kind of ad is part of a growing marketing strategy to cash in on your fears. They’re run by for-profit hospitals, medical centres, and sometimes just non-professional entrepreneurs who park their huge mobile body imaging vans in church, community or big box store parking lots.

For example, an ad from the Heart Hospital of Austin in Texas reads:

“Find a new way to tell Dad you love him! Show your love with a HeartSaver CT Scan!”

The website Track Your Plaque warns:

“The old tests for heart disease were wrong – dead wrong. Heart scans are the most important health test you can get!”

A radio ad for the Princeton Longevity Center in Princeton, New Jersey asks:

“Does your annual physical use the latest technology to prevent heart disease before it strikes?”

And this center’s website further promises that its full-day exams – which include heart scans and usually are not covered by health insurance plans – can detect the “silent killers that are often missed in a typical physical exam or routine blood tests.”

Yet most major health agencies (like the American Heart Association, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society) do not recommend routine use of heart scans in low-risk people without heart-related symptoms.  Continue reading “Heart scans: the triumph of profit over science”

What really goes on in your friendly online patient group

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters   3rd in a 3-part series:

It turns out that online patient discussion forums may not all be the noble grassroots support groups that I once believed them to be. For example, unless they are small independent online sites, or have secure academic, government or clinical funding  (like Virtual Hospice, which operates its active end-of-life care community thanks to ongoing financial support from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Cancer Care Manitoba), the site owners of most major online patient support groups are figuring out how to “monetize” their work. That’s how biz developers talk . . .

Make no mistake, my heart sisters: few online site owners (except for individual patients hosting those smaller private forums) are running a feel-good charity for us patients purely out of the goodness of their hearts.  Continue reading “What really goes on in your friendly online patient group”