Connect with us

Combating Heart Disease With AI-Generated Heart Models



The following content is sponsored by Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust

Combating Heart Disease With AI-Generated Heart Models

Heart disease is responsible for 16% of deaths worldwide, or about 9 million lives each year.

Traditional methods of diagnosis can involve multiple tests, false negative results, and some patient risks. But what if there was a safer, cheaper, and more effective way to diagnose it?

This graphic from Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust shows how one of their portfolio companies, HeartFlow, uses AI to diagnose heart disease effectively.

What is Heart Disease?

To understand the technology, it’s helpful to start with a definition of heart disease.

Ischaemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, is the most common type of heart disease. It is caused by plaque buildup inside the blood vessels that limits blood supply and may cause heart pain, heart attacks, or heart failure.

Traditionally, doctors have diagnosed heart disease in a few different ways. Stress tests monitor heart activity under exercise or medication-induced stress. However, they can have downsides such as false negative results, additional required testing, or high radiation exposure. Computed Tomography (CT) scans use X-rays to view where blood vessels are narrowing, but they do not indicate whether blood flow is impacted.

Finally, invasive coronary angiograms take X-rays of the heart’s arteries while a catheter is inserted into the groin or wrist and threaded up to the heart. Unfortunately, this invasive test is often unnecessary, as more than half of patients who undergo the test do not have coronary artery disease.

Measuring Coronary Artery Blood Flow

Medical technology company HeartFlow has a different approach. Using CT scans and artificial intelligence, HeartFlow is able to create a 3D, colour-coded model of the heart. Doctors can easily see where coronary arteries are narrowing and where blood flow to the heart is reduced.

The model also assigns a numerical value to each artery so doctors can see the extent of blood flow reduction.

1.00Full blood flow
0.80-1.00Stent not required
0.75-0.80Other clinical info required
0.75 and belowMay benefit from stent

Using this information, the doctor is able to create an informed treatment plan for the patient. For instance, the doctor may recommend a stent: a small wire mesh tube that helps keep a narrowed artery open.

Revolutionising Heart Care

HeartFlow’s innovative heart models have many benefits over traditional testing. For example, they are twice as likely to identify heart disease, offer 26% cost savings per patient, and result in an 83% reduction of unnecessary coronary angiograms.

HeartFlow’s models are convenient for doctors too, with an average turnaround time of less than five hours, no upfront capital costs, and seamless integration with existing hospital IT systems.

Along with being transformational for patients and doctors, Scottish Mortgage sees HeartFlow as an exciting investment opportunity.

  • Large market: Despite receiving relatively low media coverage, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
  • Proven success: HeartFlow is used at 40 of the top 50 U.S. heart hospitals and has served more than 170,000 patients.
  • Room for growth: HeartFlow’s relatively new technology is used for less than 5% of all cardiac testing that takes place today.
  • Geographic prospects: More hospitals could start using Heartflow where it is commercially available in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Europe.
  • Constant innovation: The company holds 400 patents worldwide and is researching how their software could be used in other applications, such as for preventative screening or heart transplants.

Want to invest in transformative companies like HeartFlow?

Visual Capitalist Logo

Discover Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, a portfolio of some of the world’s most exciting growth companies.

Click for Comments

You may also like