Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

Google builds AI that can predict heart disease

Google AI-can-predict-cardiovascular-problems Google builds AI that can predict heart disease
Samantha Long | 21 February, 2018, 03:59

To train the algorithm, Google used data from 284,335 patients which included eye scans as well as general medical data. "We therefore explored whether additional signals for cardiovascular risk can be extracted from retinal images, which can be obtained quickly, cheaply and non-invasively in an outpatient setting". The algorithm didn't outperform the accuracy of blood tests, but it was able to identify a person at risk 70 percent of the time. The algorithms were able to predict cardiovascular risk factors from retinal images with "surprisingly high accuracy" for patients from two independent datasets of 12,026 and 999 patients.

"They're taking data that's been captured for one clinical reason and getting more out of it than we now do", he said. They are also showing promise in other arenas of health, including by looking for signs of cancer in the X-ray scans reviewed by radiologists. The one on the left is a regular image; the on the right shows how Google's algorithm picks out blood vessels (in green) to predict blood pressure.

To "train" the algorithm, Verily's scientists used machine learning to study medical data from nearly 300k patients - some with cardiovascular issues, some without. It opens up a wealth of possibility in regards to preventive care and screening for heart disease.

This new algorithm is fairly accurate at predicting the risk of a cardiovascular event directly by scanning the eyes.

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Key risk factors for heart disease include both obvious things like your age and gender, and things that may be a bit harder to detect, such as whether you smoke, your systolic blood pressure, and whether you've had major cardiovascular events in the past. "That these risk factors are core components used in multiple cardiovascular risk calculators indicates that our model can potentially predict cardiovascular risk directly".

Essentially Google has taken a diagnosis method with an established history, found new ways to analyze the data and sped it up significantly. "This could help scientists generate more targeted hypotheses and drive a wide range of future research", researchers added. Nonetheless, it is a huge breakthrough for "non-invasive" health evaluations. The software can also predict the risk of stroke and if a person is affected by high blood pressure.

Google's heart disease pre-cog has a lot of promise, but many physicians feel the work needs to continue before it should achieve acceptance on a broader level.

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