AI measures blood flow in real time, predicting heart attack and stroke, study finds

An artificial intelligence technique developed by the National Institutes of Health to immediately measure blood flow from imaging data could potentially improve physicians' abilities to predict heart attack, stroke, heart failure and death, a new study suggests.

The study was published in Circulation on Feb. 14 and led by researchers from University College London and Barts Health NHS Trust. Their findings reportedly mark the first time AI has been used to accurately measure blood flow in real time; without AI analysis, interpreting cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging data is typically a time-consuming and difficult task for human experts.

In the study, researchers applied the AI technique to CMR scans of more than 1,000 patients at St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, both in London. When compared with those patients' ultimate outcomes, the AI-calculated blood flow measurements were found to be accurate indications of major adverse cardiovascular events.

"The predictive power and reliability of the AI was impressive and easy to implement within a patient's routine care. The calculations were happening as the patients were being scanned, and the results were immediately delivered to doctors. As poor blood flow is treatable, these better predictions ultimately lead to better patient care, as well as giving us new insights into how the heart works," Dr. Kristopher Knott, a research fellow at the British Heart Foundation, said in a news release.

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