Every year, approximately 17.9 million lives are lost to cardiovascular diseases (CVD), the leading cause of death across the world. The rates of heart failure misdiagnosis range from 16.1% in hospitals to 68.5% in GP referral settings. In the EU alone, the economic burden of cardiovascular diseases exceeds €210 Bn.
A systematic analysis on 10 studies done across 5 countries found patients groups with comorbidities and COPD, and the elderly population in nursing homes were more likely to have unrecognized heart failure.
Turkey is known to have a higher prevalence of heart failure and Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD) as compared to the western world. With millions of chest radiographs done annually for a host of reasons, a tool that could screen the data used in these studies to predict the early signs for risk of heart failure could be ground-breaking for care and patient outcomes.
Output generated by Chest X-ray AI Solution
Enlargement of heart in cases of heart failure
At the start of 2021, the Department of Cardiology at the Mersin University Faculty of Medicine initiated a study under Digital Transformation with Artificial Intelligence in Health with support from AstraZeneca Turkey to use Qure’s AI solutions to understand the role of AI in predicting heart failures early from incidental findings on Chest X-rays. Only patients who were previously not suspected or identified for signs of heart failure were included in the study.
Post risk assessment using the AI tool on chest radiographs, the department approached at-risk patients for follow-up tests. A larger number of patients were identified as at-risk but since this study was conducted during the pandemic restrictions, not all individuals came back to the hospital for follow-up. Of the high risk patients who came for follow up tests, 86% were identified to be confirmed heart failure patients. These individuals had confirmatory diagnoses with tests such as NT-proBNP and Echocardiography.
The results of this year-long exercise have the potential to change the use of AI in cardiology altogether.
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Çelik, President at Heart Failure Working Group of Turkish Society of Cardiology and the Principal Investigator in this research said,
“In this study, which was carried out for the early diagnosis of heart failure, the power of artificial intelligence to predict heart failure by looking at lung X-rays was realized with a sensitivity of 89.1 percent and a selectivity of 86.4 percent. More importantly 65.3 percent of patients diagnosed with heart failure had Preserved Ejection Fraction Heart Failure which is difficult to diagnose.”
Qure’s AI solution has been found to have 95%+ sensitivity for both cardiomegaly and pleural effusion. It could potentially be a game-changer as a silent reader, without increasing the work burden on healthcare professionals or adding significant costs by changing care pathways. It could screen all chest radiographs done worldwide on non-suspecting cases adding thousands of undiagnosed cases onto the cardiology risk assessment, diagnosis, and eventually treatment pathway. With a well-thought-through system for detection and diagnosis, this technology could mean more lives saved with minimal additional investment.
AstraZeneca Middle East and Africa Region Medical Director Dr. Viraj Rajadhyaksha stated,
“By applying advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches to patients who go to different units for many reasons, this project will enable them to touch the lives of patients who are diagnosed early and to meet the right treatments much earlier. The results of the research have the potential to create an early detection tool for heart failure for the first time in the world.”
AstraZeneca team aims to expand the project nationally and apply it to every lung x-ray taken. There has been research exploring the possibility of using AI for X-ray-based cardiac failure detection in a study setting. However, the potential impact on patients has not been demonstrated at such a scale before. This opens a world of opportunities for further focussed research evaluations to ascertain protocols of bringing in clinical practice.
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Çamsari, the Rector of Mersin University is a strong believer in the potential of AI to impact the diagnostic pathway for patients. He said,
“Our project will be one of the first projects where artificial intelligence is used in the early diagnosis of undiagnosed and suspected heart failure patients in our country and even in the world. In line with the results obtained, we aim to expand the project nationally and apply it to every lung x-ray taken. Again, we hope that these systems can be used in other fields such as radiological oncology and that artificial intelligence projects that touch the lives of patients can be implemented.”