News Briefs Archive

New AI Algorithm that Uses Eyes to Predict Heart Disease

May 23, 2018

Scientists from Google and its health-tech subsidiary Verily recently announced that they have been using a type of artificial intelligence (AI) known as deep learning to identify signs of heart disease, according to reporting from VMail.

The results of their research, published in February in Nature Biomedical Engineering, “Predicting Cardiovascular Risk Factors from Retinal Fundus Photographs via Deep Learning,” shows promising findings on the application of machine learning in identifying risk markers through non-invasive means.

The paper demonstrates that deep learning applied to a retinal fundus image, a photograph that includes the blood vessels of the eye, can frequently predict these risk factors—from smoking status to blood pressure—as well as predict the occurrence of a future major cardiovascular event on par with current measures, according to one of the authors, Michael V. McConnell, MD, MSEE, head of Cardiovascular Health Innovations, Verily.

“One of the exciting aspects of this study is the generation of ‘attention maps’ to show which aspects of the retina contributed most to the algorithm, thus providing a window into the “black box” often associated with machine learning,” Dr. McConnell said in a Verily blog post. “This can give clinicians greater confidence in the algorithm, and potentially provide new insights into retinal features not previously associated with cardiovascular risk factors or future risk.”

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