A new study by the University of Oxford has shown that artificial intelligence (AI) could predict if a person is at risk of having a heart attack up to 10 years in the future, potentially saving thousands of lives and improving treatment for almost half of patients.
AI improves accuracy of cardiac CT scans
The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), explored ways to improve the accuracy of cardiac CT scans, which are used to detect any blockages or narrowing in the arteries. According to the BHF, about 350,000 people in the UK have one of these scans each year. However, it said many patients go on to die of heart attacks in the future due to their failure in picking up small, undetectable narrowings.
Researchers analysed the data of more than 40,000 patients undergoing routine cardiac CT scans at eight UK hospitals, with a median follow-up time of 2.7 years. They found those whose results showed “significant” narrowing of the arteries were more likely to have a serious heart attack, but twice as many patients with no significant narrowings also went on to have heart attacks, which were sometimes fatal.
The team developed an AI program that was trained using information on changes in the fat around inflamed arteries, which can signify the risk of a heart attack.
AI predicts risk of heart attack with high accuracy
The AI tool was tested on a further 3,393 patients over almost eight years and found the AI software was able to accurately predict the risk of a heart attack. AI-generated risk scores were then presented to medics for 744 patients, with 45% having their treatment plans altered by medics as a result.
Professor Charalambos Antoniades, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the BHF and director of the acute multidisciplinary imaging and interventional centre at the University of Oxford, said: “Our study found that some patients presenting in hospital with chest pain – who are often reassured and sent back home – are at high risk of having a heart attack in the next decade, even in the absence of any sign of disease in their heart arteries. Here we demonstrated that providing an accurate picture of risk to clinicians can alter, and potentially improve, the course of treatment for many heart patients.”
He added: “We hope that this AI tool will soon be implemented across the NHS, helping prevent thousands of avoidable deaths from heart attacks every year in the UK.”
AI could revolutionise heart disease diagnosis and treatment
The study, published in the journal Circulation, is one of the first to show how AI could be used to predict the risk of heart disease in the long term, and how it could influence clinical decisions and patient outcomes.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the BHF, said the research “shows the valuable role AI-based technology can play” in identifying those most at risk of future heart attacks.
He said: “Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and we urgently need to find new ways to diagnose and treat it. This study is a prime example of how innovative research can lead to real benefits for patients and the NHS.”
He added: “We are proud to have funded this research, and we hope that it will pave the way for more AI-based tools to improve the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in the future.”
- Artificial Intelligence: AI could predict heart attacks up to 10 years in the future (scotsman.com)
- AI could predict heart attack risk up to 10 years in the future, finds Oxford study | Heart disease | The Guardian
- AI could predict if you will have a heart attack 10 years before it happens, study suggests | The Independent
- AI can accurately predict risk of heart attack ten years in advance – MSN
- AI Could Predict 10-Year Risk of Heart Disease With a Chest X-Ray (verywellhealth.com)