Artificial intelligence (AI) has been found to be able to predict the risk of a heart attack up to 10 years in advance, according to a recent study. This groundbreaking technology has the potential to save thousands of lives and […]
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been found to be able to predict the risk of a heart attack up to 10 years in advance, according to a recent study. This groundbreaking technology has the potential to save thousands of lives and improve treatment outcomes for nearly half of all patients, say researchers from the University of Oxford.
The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), focused on how AI can enhance the accuracy of cardiac CT scans used to detect artery blockages or narrowing. By analyzing data from over 40,000 patients who underwent routine heart CT scans at eight hospitals in the UK, the researchers were able to investigate the potential of AI in predicting future heart attack risks.
“Through our study, we have discovered that some patients who present with chest pain – which often subsides and leads to them being sent home – are at high risk for a heart attack in the next ten years, even in the absence of any signs of disease in their coronary arteries,” explains Professor Haralambos Antonijades, the head of cardiology at BHF and director of the Oxford Acute Multidisciplinary Imaging and Intervention Center.
“We have shown that providing physicians with an accurate risk assessment can change and potentially improve the course of treatment for many patients with heart conditions.”
In the UK, approximately 350,000 people undergo cardiac CT scans each year. However, according to BHF data, many patients still die from heart attacks due to the inability to detect subtle, asymptomatic narrowings in the arteries.
During the study, the AI tool was tested on an additional 3,393 patients over almost eight years, successfully predicting the risk of heart attacks. The generated risk assessments were then presented to medical professionals for 744 patients, resulting in a 45% alteration of treatment plans by the doctors.
“We hope that this artificial intelligence tool will soon be implemented in the National Health Service (NHS) to help prevent thousands of avoidable deaths caused by heart attacks each year in the UK,” adds Antonijades.
The research team also discovered that individuals with “significant” artery narrowing were more likely to experience severe heart attacks. However, a double number of patients with uncertain narrowing also later suffered from heart attacks, some of which were fatal.
Professor Nedeljko Sama, the BHF’s medical director, emphasizes that the research “illustrates the important role of AI-based technology” in identifying those most vulnerable to future heart attacks.