According to a recent study, artificial intelligence may be able to determine a person’s risk of having a heart attack up to ten years in advance.
Researchers said that if the new tool is implemented, it could help the NHS save thousands of heart attack deaths and enhance care for nearly half of the patients.
In the University of Oxford study, artificial intelligence (AI) was used to investigate how to increase the accuracy of cardiac CT scans, which are used to find any blockages or narrowing in the arteries. The tool was found to be able to predict thousands of heart attacks with accuracy.
According to Professor Charalambos Antoniades, director of the acute multidisciplinary imaging and interventional centre at the University of Oxford and chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the British Heart Foundation, certain patients who are admitted to the hospital with chest pain and are later discharged have a high risk of experiencing a heart attack within ten years, even if they show no symptoms of artery disease.
He stated: “Here, we showed that giving physicians a precise picture of risk can change and possibly even improve the course of treatment for a large number of heart patients.”
“We anticipate that the NHS will soon use this AI tool, which will help stop thousands of heart attacks that could have been prevented each year in the UK.”
It follows the government’s announcement of a £21 million fund for AI tools NHS trusts can apply for, including those for medical imaging and decision support during treatment.
The BHF, which provided funding for the study, estimates that 350,000 people in the UK undergo cardiac scans annually. Nevertheless, it stated that a large number of patients die from heart attacks as a result of their inability to identify tiny, imperceptible heart narrowings.
The data of over 40,000 patients receiving routine scans at eight UK hospitals was analysed by the researchers. After testing the AI tool on 3,393 more patients over a nearly eight-year period, it was discovered that the software could correctly predict the patients’ risk of having a heart attack.
Researchers discovered that although patients without significant artery narrowings were twice as likely to experience heart attacks, which can occasionally be fatal, those whose results indicated “significant” artery narrowing were more likely to experience a major heart attack.
Using data on alterations in the fat surrounding inflammatory arteries—a marker of an increased risk of a heart attack—the team created an artificial intelligence programme.
The BHF’s medical director, Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, stated that the study “shows the valuable role AI-based technology can play” in identifying heart attack risk factors.
He went on: Every year, heart attacks cause the unnecessary deaths of far too many people. We must make the most of AI’s potential to direct patient care and make sure the NHS is set up to support its application.
They hope that this technology will be implemented throughout the National Health Service (NHS) and contribute to the thousands of lives that would not have received treatment annually.