Artificial intelligence (AI) can predict when patients with a heart disorder will die, according to new research by scientists at UK’s Medical Research Council. The software they created learned to analyze blood tests and scans of beating hearts to spot signs that the organ was about to fail. The team behind the research said the technology could save lives by finding patients that need more aggressive treatment.
For the study, the AI software was given MRI scans of 256 patients' hearts, and blood test results. It measured the movement of 30,000 different points in the organ's structure during each heartbeat. When this data was combined with eight years of patient health records, the artificial intelligence learned which abnormalities predicted when patients would die.
The software could look about five years into the future. It correctly predicted those who would still be alive after one year about 80 percent of the time. The figure for doctors is 60 percent.
High blood pressure in the lungs damages part of the heart, and about a third of patients die with five years of being diagnosed. There are treatments such as drugs, injections straight into the blood vessels and a lung transplant. But doctors need to have an idea of how long patients might have left, in order to pick the right treatment. The new AI could allow doctors to tailor the right intensive treatment to those who will benefit the most.
The team now wants to test the software works in other patients in different hospitals before assessing whether it should be made widely available to doctors. The researchers also want to use the technology in other forms of heart failure, such as cardiomyopathy, to see who might need a pacemaker or other forms of treatment.