This week, JAMA Internal Medicine published a clinical trial purporting to find that acupuncture helps stable angina. Here’s a hint: It doesn’t. It’s a bait-and-switch study that used “electroacupuncture” instead of acupuncture with poor blinding and lack of consideration of prior plausibility.
The latest issue of the official journal of the European Atherosclerosis Society features a credulous article on traditional Chinese medicine. TCM is presented as a system of medicine whose use should “spread to Western societies.” Sadly, the editors failed here, as the article consists of revisionist history, pseudoscience, and false equivalence.
Last week, the results of ORBITA were published. This clinical trial tested coronary angioplasty and stenting versus optimal medical management in patients with single-vessel coronary artery disease. It was a resoundingly negative trial, meaning that adding stenting to drug management didn’t result in detectable clinical improvement. What was distinctive about this trial is that it used a sham procedure (i.e., placebo) control, which few trials testing surgery or a procedure use. The results of ORBITA emphasize how important sham procedure controls are, whenever they can be ethically used, and how resistant physicians can be to change.