Although celebrity illnesses attract a significant amount of media attention in the United States, there are few studies that have looked at how celebrity health conditions impact the awareness of the illness in the general population. Recently, Vice President Cheney underwent left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation and subsequently a cardiac transplant. The aim of this study was to determine whether there was evidence of increased interest in these 2 procedures as assessed by social media. We determined the relative frequency of Google searches for LVAD and heart transplantation from 2004 to 2013 using Google trends. We also counted the number of YouTube videos and Twitter messages posted monthly concerning LVADs over a 7-year time frame. There was a significant spike in the Google search interest for LVAD and heart transplantation in the month when Vice President Cheney underwent the respective procedure. Similarly, there was a large increase in YouTube videos and Twitter messages concerning LVADs shortly after he was implanted. In total, these data support the concept that a public figure's illness can significantly influence the public's interest in that condition and its associated therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine