TEC: Evidence Based Therapeutics
Therapeutics Education Collaboration
Medication Mythbusters – Home of the Best Science (BS) Medicine Podcast

The BS Medicine Podcast episodes are presented by James McCormack and Michael Allan. We try to promote healthy skepticism and critical thinking and most of the podcasts are presented in a case-based approach. We also try to inject some humour into the whole process to make the learning more interesting. Occasionally we have great guests like Mike Kolber, Tina Korownyk and Bruce Arroll help us out.

Most podcast episodes are available for free until they become archived after about 1-2 months. Every 4th episode or so is a “New Studies You Need to Know About” podcast and these will only be available to our Premium Podcast members. Premium members will also be able to listen to all archived episodes since episode #1.

Episode 18: Osteoporosis: The Initial Approach to Bone-Density

In episode 18 we consider the approach to questions of bone density and fracture risk. We use a series of cases to work through the risk of osteoporosis (using a simple tool) and help us decide on bone mineral density testing. We discuss initial options in the prevention of fractures including weight-bearing exercise, Calcium and Vitamin D (and its additional advantages).

Show Notes

1) Osteoporosis self-assessment tool – estimating risk of osteoporosis

2) Vitamin D and Calcium (for fracture)

3) Vitamin D and falling risk

JAMA 2004;291:1999-2006

4) Meta-analysis of Vit D on Mortality

Arch Intern Med 2007;167:1730-1737

Episode 17: Anti-Depressants: Some Issues in Managing Depression

In episode 17 we look at managing the treatment of depression once we’ve started a medication. We discuss the patient conversations necessary for initiating treatment including the patient perception of the illness, expectations and potential side-effects. We debate the quandaries around starting doses, when or if to increase, duration of therapy and relapse prevention. Although we use available evidence, we acknowledge some of our advice is Best-Guess based medicine.

Show Notes

1) Monitoring form for using antidepressants in children and adolescents

2) Clinical tool to monitor antidepressant treatment

3) Scales, doctors finding benefit (when there isn’t any)

Lancet 2004;363:1341-5

4) Investigators’ conclusions on the efficacy of newer antidepressants in childhood depression have exaggerated their benefits

BMJ 2004;328:879-83

5) Benefit seen in 1 week with antidepressants

Arch Gen Psychiatry 2006;63:1217-23

6) The risk of recurrence progressively increases with each successive episode and decreases as the duration of recovery increases

Am J Psychiatry 2000;157:229–233)

7) Relapse due to stopping meds – relapse at 12 months – 18% on drugs 41% on placebo

Lancet 2003;361:653–51

8) 5mg of fluoxetine works Psychopharmacology Bulletin 1988;24:183-8

Click here to download article

Episode 16: Anti-Depressants: Is there a Drug of Choice?

In episode 16 we look at initiating treatment for depression. We briefly review screening and the diagnosis of depression before discussing the non-drug treatment options (therapy, exercise, sleep hygiene). We search for the anti-depressant of choice (being any) and end up deciding to tailor the choice based on factors such as side-effect profile, targeted symptoms, and cost. Although we stress the importance of regular follow-up, James refuses to come to see Mike or Adil.

Show Notes

1) Two screening questions for depression – do you feel depressed, do you have little interest in doing things

BMJ 2003; 327:1144-46

J Gen Intern Med. 1997;12:439-45

2) Benefit seen in 1 week with antidepressants

Arch Gen Psychiatry 2006;63:1217-23

3) No difference between the second generation antidepressants in effect

Ann Intern Med. 2005;143 :415-26

4) Weight benefit with fluoxetine.

Arch Intern Med 2004;164:1395-1404

5) Amitriptyline is as effective as other tricyclics or newer agents

Cochrane Library

6) Monitoring form for using antidepressants in children and adolescents

7) Clinical tool to monitor antidepressant treatment

Episode 15: Treating Depression: The Recent Sad News about Anti-Depressants

In episode 15 a guest assists us in addressing the evidence suggesting anti-depressants are not as effective as believed. We review some biases in the anti-depressant research including publication bias (how good studies are published more than bad studies). We discuss how the benefits of anti-depressants over placebo increase as the severity of depression worsens. James prompts us to explain the effectiveness of the medications; although we dodge, some vague commitments do manage to escape.

Show Notes

1) Selective publication of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors data

BMJ 2003;326:1171-73

2) Another select report on the selective publication of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

NEJM 2008; 358: 252

3) Antidepressants have a clinically important effect above placebo only in patients with severe depression

PLOS 2008:5(2):0260-8

4) Fluoxetine – evidence for benefit in children – others maybe not?

Lancet 2004;363:1341-5

5) In children, with antidepressants, the magnitude of benefit is unlikely sufficient to justify the harms

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7444/879

Episode 14: Listener Mail: Addressing the Questions and Confusion

In episode 14 we attempt to answer some of the mail received from listeners. We talk about using the evidence to promote shared decision-making. We review calculating risk, the limitations of risk calculators and presenting the data in the positive (chance of not having an event). We address heart disease as the leading cause of mortality (despite advancement in treatment) and emerging discussions of statin use in children (age ?8). We unwrap these enigmas to create more confusion.

Show Notes

1) Some references showing high cholesterol in patients over age 75-80 is not necessarily associated with increased mortality or sometimes not even increased cardiovascular disease.

Ann Epidemiol 2004;14:705–21

JAMA 1994;272:1335-40

Ann Int Med 1997;126:753-60

J Am Geriatr Soc 2004;52:1639-47

Arch Int Med 2003;163:1549-54

J Am Geriatr Soc 2005;53:2159-64

J Am Geriatr Soc 2005;53:219-26

2) Treatment of hypertension in patients 80 years of age or older reduces the chance of a cardiovascular event by 3% over 2 years

NEJM 2008;358:1887-98

Episode 13: Butt-Out:Silencing “The Smoking Gun” in Health

In our 13th episode, we discuss smoking cessation. We present the impressive benefits in hard outcomes when people stop smoking. We then go through the list of interventions, from brief advice to the pharmaceutical options of nicotine replacement, two anti-depressants (Buproprion or Nortiriptyline) and the newest agent, Varenicline. Dosing, cessation rates and adverse events are reviewed (for medications, not cigarettes: that dose is zero).

Show Notes

1) Intensive smoking cessation intervention reduces mortality in high-risk smokers with cardiovascular disease

Chest 2007; 131: 446–52.

2) Listening empathetically and asking if they are ready to quit smoking

Silagy C, Ketteridge S. The effectiveness of physician advice to aid smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1998. Issue 2

3) Bupropion at a dose of 150 mg daily works as well as 300 mg daily

New Engl J Med 1997; 337:1195-202

4) Nortriptyline and bupropion for smoking cessation

Antidepressants for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 1

5) Varenicline for smoking cessation

Nicotine receptor partial agonists for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008. Issue 3

Episode 12: Getting Hyper Tense about Monitoring

In our 12th episode, we divide and conquer the remaining points around hypertension. In section A, we talk about monitoring blood pressure: frequency, reliability and home monitoring are all discussed. In section B, we talk about the potential side-effects of different hypertension therapies and the need to monitor for biochemical-metabolic effects. In the end, Mike is hyper and James is tense but both need therapy.

Show Notes

1) Effect of home blood pressure monitoring on blood pressure

BMJ 2004;329:145

2) Hypokalemia and metabolic effects of thiazides are dose related

BMJ 1990;300:975

3) Cardioselective beta-blockers in mild-moderate asthma and COPD Cardioselective beta-blockers in asthma

Ann Intern Med. 2002;137:715-725

Cardioselective beta-blockers in COPD

Cochrane library

Other resources

Episode 11: Taking the Pressure off: Other Drugs

In our 11th episode, we discuss the laundry list of the remaining hypertensive medications and their evidence. The issue of blood pressure as a surrogate marker is discussed and we encourage clinicians to focus on hypertensive agents that effect patient oriented outcomes. While the evidence is reasonable for Ca+ Blocker, we put Beta-blockers low down (and Atenolol off) the list with Alpha-blockers and a few others.We have few laughs along the way, primarily at our lack of humor.

Show Notes

1) Atenolol no better than placebo and other drugs are better than atenolol in reducing cardiovascular outcomes in patents with high blood pressure

Lancet 2004;364:1684–9

2) Beta-blockers do appear to increase the chance of developing diabetes

Am J Cardiol 2007;100:1254–62

3) A debate on using or not using betablockers for high blood pressure

Can Fam Physician 2007;53:614-7

4) ALLHAT – the problem with alpha-blockers

JAMA 2000;283:1967-75

5) Data for felodipine and cardiovascular events in patients with high blood pressure

Lancet 1998;351:1755-62

6) Use of low-dose spironolactone in “resistant” hypertension

Amer J Hyper 2003;16:925–30

7) Effect of spironolactone on albuminuria

Diabetes Care 2005;28:2106–12

Episode 10: Taking the Pressure Off: ACE Inhibitors

In our tenth episode, we discuss our second choice of hyperåtensive medication agent, the ACE inhibitor. We review dosing and renal protection (briefly) before agreeing our choice is based mostly on once a day adminstration and costs. We look at substituting with ARBs but not combining with ARBs (with possible exception of co-morbid CHF). Throughout the podcast, James disagrees with Mike on a variety of issues, more on principle than fact.

Show Notes

1) A meta-analysis of ACE inhibitors/ARBs versus other antihypertensive drugs on renal outcomes – in diabetics, no difference in end-stage renal disease or doubling of creatinine – albuminuria was reduced but remember this is a surrogate endpoint

Lancet 2005;366:2026-33

2) Telmisartan produced the same outcome as ramipril in diabetics – the combination did not add benefit but increased adverse events

N Engl J Med 2008;358:1547-59

3) Combining ACEs and ARBs in heart failure did produce a benefit

Lancet. 2003;362:767-71

Episode 9: News Flash: Aggressive Blood Sugar Control Not All Sweet

In our ninth episode, we interrupt our regularly scheduled podcast to talk about the recently released ACCORD and ADVANCE trials which focus on intensive glucose control (reduction) in diabetes. We discuss the patient-oriented outcomes and harms, ranging from mortality to hypoglycemia, as well as the potential benefits such as preventing microalbuminuria. Evidence regarding patient blood sugar monitoring is reviewed while reminding listeners how much fun monitoring is for our patients.

Show Notes

1) A synopsis of what was reported in the ACCORD and ADVANCE studies.

Download PDF

N Engl J Med 2008 358:2545-2559

N Engl J Med 2008 358:2560-2572

2) Studies of monitoring blood sugar in type 2 diabetics showing no benefit and increased depression scores

BMJ. 2007 Jul 21;335(7611):105-6

BMJ. 2008 May 24;336(7654):1174-7

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