Eye scan spots heart attack as accurately as blood test

Google Scientists Create Algorithm For Heart Attack Risk Based On Retinal Scans

Artificial intelligence software developed by Google in conjunction with its biotech subsidiary company Verily can scan retinal images to predict heart disease at almost the same accuracy rate as a traditional blood test, United Press International reports.

From the retinal images, Google's AI can determine within impressive degrees of accuracy a patient's age, gender, blood pressure, and smoking status, as well as even the past occurrence of major cardiovascular events, The Verge explains.

Google isn't the only company trying to use A.I.to improve healthcare. Google's algorithm is about 70 percent accurate compared to the 72 percent accuracy that traditional methods can achieve.

"AI offers us the potential for new, less invasive tests for heart health - predicting cardiovascular results from retinal images with computer vision - encouraging early results!", Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Tuesday while referring the study in a tweet. Once trained, they tested the method by having it look at two eye scans: one normal, and one from a patient who suffered a cardiac event within five years of the image being taken. Neural networks were used to find patterns in the eye's blood vessels which typically correspond to an increased cardiovascular risk. Peng said the work "may represent a new method of scientific discovery".

"Traditionally, medical discoveries are often made through a sophisticated form of guess and test - making hypotheses from observations and then designing and running experiments to test the hypotheses", wrote Peng.

Google AI's approach uses deep learning to draw connections between changes in the human anatomy and disease, akin to how doctors learn to associate signs and symptoms with the diagnosis of a new disease. "This could help scientists generate more targeted hypotheses and drive a wide range of future research", she concluded.

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