Israeli researchers have built an artificial intelligence tool that analyzes ECG tests and predicts heart failure with high accuracy weeks before it happens.
The new technology is for people with myositis – muscle inflammation – which increases the risk of heart failure.
The physician who led the research, Dr. Shahar Shelly of the Rambam Healthcare Campus, told The Times of Israel that it was the first AI tool designed specifically for this population. It analyzes heart patterns unique to them and may result in earlier detection than is currently possible, he said.
He reported in peer-reviewed research that the algorithm successfully predicted 80% of heart failure cases among a sample of myositis patients.
The study was done by running the algorithm on their ECG tests and then comparing its predictions of who was at risk for heart failure with medical records to see who ended up with heart failure.
“We run ECG tests through the AI model, which sees details that doctors normally can’t detect, and then predicts who is at risk for heart failure,” Shelly said.
“Since it’s these heart malfunctions that often end up killing people, it can save lives.”
Shelly conducted the study with researchers from the Department of Cardiology at the prestigious US-based Mayo Clinic Medical Center.
They taught the AI model by showing it the ECG scans and medical records of 89 patients with myositis from 2000 to 2020. The algorithm built a picture of subtle patterns in the ECGs that appear to increase the risk of failure cardiac.
It hasn’t rolled out to clinics yet, but Shelly said that was the goal, after more research.
“Later on, the use of this model will help provide appropriate treatments at an early stage, even before patients’ health status deteriorates,” he said. “We’re talking here about preventing serious illness and even death.”
Shelly added: “Early detection is what is important here. The algorithm looks for heart dysfunction, and when it finds it, doctors can take steps to prevent heart failure, such as changing treatment strategies.
“For a population that is at increased risk of heart failure, this can make a very big difference.”
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