Artificial intelligence technology developed to predict heart disease

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A revolutionary new medical device able to predict coronary artery disease using artificial intelligence (AI) has been developed by a UK health-tech firm, the first such technology of its kind.


A revolutionary new medical device able to predict coronary artery disease using artificial intelligence (AI) has been developed by a UK health-tech firm, the first such technology of its kind.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death globally, with the World Health Organisation estimating that 17 million people die of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) every year, particularly heart attacks and strokes. 

The technology, called ‘EchoGo Pro’, makes predictions about coronary heart disease (CAD) risk through ultrasound analysis. It does so by analysing the ultrasound images, which is currently the primary test used, by using AI technology to identify disease.

AI commonly refers to a combination of machine learning techniques and robotics, combined with algorithms and automated decision-making systems, which together are able to predict human and machine behaviour and make autonomous decisions.

Currently, misdiagnosis of cardiovascular disease occurs in one in five patients due to the complexity of symptoms, circumstances, and comorbidities, which makes it extremely challenging for doctors to correctly identify conditions in traditional visual inspection.

However, in this way, the technology is able to analyse thousands of data points, rather than the 5-6 indicators in traditional visual inspection. 

EchoGo Pro is then able to generate the results on the spot, delivering a heart disease prognosis to hospital sites through its secure cloud system, built-in partnership with the  UK National Health Service, based on thousands of past clinical exams. 

When trialled in the UK and the US, the technology achieved a diagnostic performance of over 90% and halved the number of misdiagnoses compared to reports of routine clinical practice. 

The device has been developed by Ultromics, a UK-based health technology firm, and is now CE marked, which allows it to be used across the UK and the EU. 

CE marking indicates that a product has been assessed by the manufacturer and deemed to meet EU safety, health and environmental protection requirements. It is required for products manufactured anywhere in the world that are then marketed in the EU.

Ultromics co-founder and CEO, Ross Upton, said that the “high level of precision and its speed of use means doctors, regardless of their level of experience or training, can make accurate recommendations to patients to help reduce misdiagnosis,” thus ultimately helping to save lives.

He added that the technology could help to dramatically lower misdiagnosis rates, which would have a considerable effect on hospitals and healthcare providers, saving them money and medical resources.

“Leveraging AI technology means we can more accurately predict heart disease and optimise care pathways – to help make valuable cost and time savings for healthcare systems at this time when they are already stretched and in much need of support,” added Professor Paul Leeson, head of the Oxford cardiovascular clinical research facility and co-founder of Ultromics.

The use of AI technologies is increasingly affecting our daily lives and the potential range of application is so broad that it has been referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

Business Insider Intelligence reported that spending on AI in healthcare is projected to grow by 48% between 2017 and 2023.

Furthermore, the European Commission has been increasing its annual investments in AI by 70% under the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, predicted to reach €1.5 billion for the period 2018-2020.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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