According to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual scientific session.
The study assessed content in TikTok videos focusing on high blood pressure (also called hypertension), one of the most common risk factors for heart disease and stroke in American adults. The researchers found that 42% of the videos dealt with alternative medicine, more than double those that focused on scientifically validated medical treatments, and 14% mentioned products for sale.
“Much of the information in these videos had no explicit source mentioned in the video, so viewers might not know if it comes from a credible source,” said Nanda Siva, a third-year medical student at West Virginia University School. of Medicine and the lead author of the study. “Most of the people posting these kinds of videos weren’t healthcare providers, and the number of cardiologists was low.”
The research team, comprised of medical students from West Virginia University and George Washington University who were mentored by Arka Chatterjee, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona, reviewed a total of 91 videos associated with the hashtags #highbloodpressure and #hypertension in a single day (Oct 11, 2021). The final videos were chosen from the top 100 videos for each hashtag. Videos that were not in English or related to the medical condition were eliminated.
While almost 90% of the videos were rated as educational, a significant portion (14%) was rated as promotional in nature. Diet, a common strategy for controlling high blood pressure, was mentioned in 43% of the videos, but exercise, another essential part of a heart-healthy lifestyle, was only mentioned in 5 % videos.
Medical treatments were mentioned in 14% of the videos, but 42% discussed alternative medicine approaches such as herbal supplements, acupuncture or massage techniques which did not show improvement in cardiovascular outcomes in recent large-scale studies. As an example, Siva said one of the top-ranked videos asks viewers to rub behind their ear 36 times a day to stabilize blood pressure.
“It’s easy for individuals to feed off of a patient’s desire for an easier solution to their problem or their desire not to use medication,” Siva said. “If videos are made about proven lifestyle changes or the importance of medication adherence, that’s not what makes the top 100 on TikTok. It is not what is shared and seen.
Researchers were able to use each creator’s TikTok profile to identify videos created by someone with a medical background. Additional research was done if the background of the creator was unclear. Overall, less than half of the top videos were posted by medical professionals, of which 22% were physicians and 5% cardiologists.
“I think there needs to be more emphasis on what patients use to receive information, whether it’s social media, YouTube, TikTok or Twitter,” Siva said, adding that patients often discontinue medications by because of incorrect information or advice. “As healthcare professionals, we need to recognize that patients don’t read the scientific literature that we read. Not only do we need to grow our social media presence, but we need to express that information in a way that makes sense to them.
TikTok allows users to upload and watch video clips that are usually 10-60 seconds long, but can be up to 10 minutes long. With 1 billion reported monthly users, up 45% from mid-2020, TikTok has grown in prominence as a major social media platform since its global launch in 2017. About half of users are under the age of 30, although the researchers did not investigate the age of the viewers of the videos examined in their study. The study was limited by its reliance on single-day video rankings. The mix of top videos can change quickly as new content goes viral.
Since health issues, such as high blood pressure, tend to become more prevalent as people age, Siva said demographic trends could increase the role of social media as a conduit for health information. health.
“I think it’s going to become more and more important over time,” Siva said. “As the aging generation is more active on social media, this is the information they will see most often. We [health care professionals] We have to lead the charge on this, because if we fall behind, there will be even more misinformation than there already is.
For more information on high blood pressure, visit CardioSmart.org/high-blood-pressure.
Siva will present the study, “Evaluating Hypertension-Related Content on TikTok: A Social Media Analysis,” on Saturday, April 2 at 3:45 p.m. ET / 7:45 p.m. UTC in Poster Hall, Hall C.
ACC.22 will take place April 2-4, 2022 in Washington, DC, bringing together cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists from around the world to share the latest findings in treatment and prevention. To follow @ACCinTouch, @ACCMediaCenter and #ACC22 for the latest news from the meeting.
The American College of Cardiology envisions a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. As the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the mission of the College and its 54,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The ACC graduates cardiovascular professionals who meet rigorous qualifications and leads the development of health policies, standards and guidelines. The College also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research through its world-renowned JACC journals, maintains national registries to measure and improve care, and offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions. To learn more, visit ACC.org.
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