This new AI-based technique can detect heart disease and may help prevent heart attacks


In what could lead to the development of new treatments for heart disease, researchers have created a new artificial intelligence (AI) technique that can detect plaque erosion in heart arteries. The technique uses optical coherence tomography (OCT) images to monitor arterial plaque. The finding is crucial because the disintegration of plaque can serve as a prelude to a heart attack or other serious heart disease. OCT, which is an optical imaging technique, can be used in blood vessels to produce 3D images of the coronary arteries that carry blood to the heart muscles.

The OCT technique was used to locate plaque erosion. However, the volume of data generated and the difficulty of interpreting the images lead to significant interobserver variability. In order to solve this problem, the researchers introduced AI in the OCT technique to identify plaque erosion.

“If the cholesterol plaque lining the arteries begins to erode, it can lead to a sudden reduction in blood flow to the heart, known as acute coronary syndrome, which requires urgent treatment. Our new method could help improve clinical diagnosis of plaque erosion and be used to develop new treatments for patients with heart disease,” said Zhao Wang of the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. Wang is also the lead author. of the study published in Biomedical Optics Express.

The new AI method consists of two main steps where an AI model known as a neural network first analyzes the original image and two shape information to predict regions of plaque erosion .

This prediction is then refined through a post-processing algorithm that mimics the knowledge of professional doctors to establish the diagnosis. “We had to develop a new AI model that incorporates explicit shape information, the key feature used to identify plaque erosion in OCT images. The underlying intravascular OCT imaging technology is also crucial as it is currently the highest resolution imaging modality that can be used to diagnose plaque erosion in living patients,” Wang said. .

The researchers tested the new technique and found that the automated method could predict 80% of plaque erosion cases with a positive predictive value of 73%. Moreover, the diagnosis made using the AI ​​technique matched well with those made by experienced doctors.

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