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Cardiovascular Health Q3 2023

How AI is improving heart health diagnosis

Medical full body screening software on tablet
Medical full body screening software on tablet
iStock / Getty Images Plus / ra2studio

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani

Medical Director, British Heart Foundation

Artificial intelligence is making its way from labs to hospitals, thanks to new research. Our funding is driving the development of AI that can improve diagnosis, treatment and care for heart patients in the UK and around the world.

MRI scans are crucial tools to help doctors diagnose, monitor, and treat heart disease. But analysing scans by hand is time consuming, taking on average 13 minutes or longer – valuable time that doctors could be spending with their patients.

AI to fast-track diagnosis

A new AI scanning technology, developed by scientists at University College London with funding from the British Heart Foundation, is being introduced at hospitals in the UK and around the globe. The AI tool can analyse scans and spot issues such as early signs of heart disease just 20 seconds – while the patient is still in the scanner.

The researchers trained the AI using heart scans from over 1900 people. It measures the size of the left ventricle – the main pumping chamber of the heart – and how well it pumps blood around the body. They found that it was able to detect changes to the heart’s structure and function with 40 per cent greater precision and could draw out information from scans that the human eye can’t detect.

The researchers estimate that their AI tool could save around 3000 clinical days every year. By helping to fast-track diagnosis, it can also help heart patients get the treatment and care they need much sooner.

The AI tool can analyse scans and spot issues such as early signs of heart disease just 20 seconds.

Improving women’s heart attack care

Women who have a heart attack are 50 per cent more likely than men to receive the wrong initial diagnosis. But clinical trials are testing an AI tool that could help to narrow the heart attack gender gap.

University of Edinburgh researchers, funded by the British Heart Foundation, are also developing an AI tool to diagnose heart attacks faster and more accurately. Trained on data from over 10,000 people, including 48% women, the AI combines patient information with blood test results to detect troponin, a protein released during a heart attack.

The team found the tool could rule out a heart attack with 99.5 per cent certainty, confirming patients were safe to go home. It also identified those who would benefit from staying in hospital for further tests, and was able to diagnose heart attacks with greater accuracy than current tests, especially in women.

New technologies funded by BHF donations could save thousands of lives worldwide. We need your support to power research and drive forward new diagnostic tools and treatments for heart and circulatory diseases. This September, we’re shining a spotlight on these conditions and amplifying the voices of those affected. Please share your stories, time, donations, or money to help us beat heartbreak forever.

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