In the U.S., you’re more likely to die of a heart attack than anything else. Given the significance of this organ, it’s critical to take care of it.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always straightforward to interpret how you feel when a cardiac incident occurs, let alone predict one. Yet that may change with the development of a new technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret cardiovascular magnetic imaging. Physicians hope this new tool will improve health outcomes and increase your chances of survival if the worst occurs.
What Is Cardiovascular Magnetic Imaging And How Can AI Help?
Cardiovascular magnetic imaging works much the same way as an MRI of any other body part. However, one significant difference exists. Because of the complexity and size of the circulatory system and the various organs lining the chest cavity, these images are challenging for doctors to interpret with the naked eye. Doing so is time-consuming, and errors can occur. Mistakes from misinterpreted results cost lives.
New AI technology allows researchers to precisely and accurately quantify the blood flow to the heart muscle. It then delivers these results to doctors immediately and enables them to recommend treatment protocols in a shorter time, improving treatment outcomes. Doctors have already identified that patients with lower blood flow to this organ stand a significantly higher risk of adverse issues, such as heart failure or stroke.
This innovation promises to improve patient care in two substantial ways. The time between having a test, like a cardiovascular magnetic imaging scan, and receiving results, can extend for weeks. This gap leads some patients to fall out of touch with their doctors, and research suggests that only about 30% of patients even respond to letters indicating the need for a follow-up. When they fail to do so, they may miss receiving test results entirely. They then fail to start the necessary treatments and lifestyle changes that could extend their years.
With this new technology, patients could theoretically report to an imaging center. The technicians would perform the test, and then the patient could proceed immediately to their doctor’s office for interpretation. Eliminating the gap between imaging and analysis could potentially save lives and improve outcomes.
Furthermore, the time it takes to interpret results by hand takes doctors away from what they do best — listening to and helping patients. Approximately 42% of all physicians report feeling burnout from overloaded work schedules. This condition can lead to errors, as fatigue may cause these individuals to misinterpret results. Robots don’t get tired, and AI technology could potentially increase the accuracy of results while easing stress among providers.
Addressing Cardiovascular Disease At Multiple Levels
Given the vast number of people who perish from cardiovascular disease annually, improving treatment outcomes remains crucial. To reduce the rates of this condition, society must take a multifaceted approach, including educational outreach, improved preventative care, and technological innovation.
You might think people know that excessive salt intake or smoking can strain your heart, but not everybody enjoys equal access to information. Additionally, even those who think they understand basic biology can overlook essential medical cues. For example, did you know that getting up two or more times to urinate during the night could signify high blood pressure? The public needs to understand, preferably from a young age, the factors that exacerbate heart disease, given that it remains the number one killer.
Improved Preventative Care
Here’s where the new AI technology lends a substantial hand in improving care. By speeding up the process of receiving lab results, doctors can advise patients on making lifestyle changes to improve their chances. They can also start them on a course of medication to control conditions like hypertension more quickly.
While some people lament the way technology can take over human jobs, in the medical field, these innovations can prove lifesaving. The more quickly and accurately physicians reach a diagnosis, the sooner they can treat. Additionally, medical errors remain the third leading cause of death, and reducing the margin for error can save lives.
AI Technology Can Improve Cardiac Patient Outcomes
AI technology offers an exciting new avenue for recognizing cardiovascular problems early. With continued advances like this one, coupled with outreach efforts, hopefully, society can reduce the number of people dying because their hearts give up.