Massive Heart Attack Or Massive Journalistic Irresponsibility?

A great lesson in how not to report about heart attacks in the general media, from Gary Schwitzer, health journalism watchdog:

Journalists: don’t use the term “massive” heart attack if you don’t know what you’re talking about

 Very quickly, the term “massive heart attack” started going viral among Minnesota news organizations and on Twitter and Facebook.

Two and a half hours later, Rybak was tweeting from the hospital: “My cardiac surprise/Gave me quite a start/But it proves this politician/Has a great big heart.”

“His former spokesman, John Stiles, described the heart attack as “serious,’’ but said Rybak will be released in several days.”

“Massive heart attack” is a vague, frightening, dangerous term to be throwing around in the absence of evidence. I know how I reacted when I read the news yesterday; many other readers’ comments showed that they thought Rybak was dead or dying imminently.

Read the entire post at HealthNewsReview.Org.



  1. JAN WEBER MD says

    The journalistic definition of a “massive heart attack” should be a heart attack that kills the victim within an hour”. No lay person really cares how many grams of myocardium are lost. If the victim survives, the infarct is “minor”, even if there is totall occlusion of the LM. 2gm of tissue loss and SCD is “massive.” That should simplify things for the news media.

  2. Journalists want breaking or sensational news for more trp

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