Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Researchers from the University of Oxford are using artificial intelligence to improve diagnostic accuracy for heart disease. The team hope to roll out the system across the NHS later this year, helping to improve patient outcomes and saving millions is misdiagnoses. The research, led by Prof Paul Leeson and RDM DPhil student Ross Upton (Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility), took place in the Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust and is the basis of spin-out company Ultromics.

Thousands of people every year have an echocardiogram – a type of heart scan – after visiting hospital suffering with chest pain. Clinicians currently assess these scans by eye, taking into account many features that could indicate whether someone has heart disease and if they are likely to go on to have a heart attack. But even the most well trained cardiologist can misdiagnose patients. Currently, 1 in 5 scans are misdiagnosed each year – the equivalent to 12,000 patients. This means that people are either not being treated to prevent a heart attack, or they are undergoing unnecessary operations to stave off a heart attack they won’t have.

The new system uses machine learning – a form of artificial intelligence – to tap into the rich information provided in an echocardiogram. Using the new system, AI can detect 80,000 subtle changes inviable to the naked eye, improving the accuracy of diagnosis to 90%. The machine learning system was trained using scans from previous patients, alongside data about whether they went on to have a heart attack. The team hope that the improved diagnostic accuracy will not only improve patient care and outcomes, but save the NHS £300million a year in avoidable operations and treatment.  

Ross Upton discusses the new system with BBC World News.

So far the system has been trialled in six cardiology units in the UK. Further implementation of the technology is now being led by Ultromics – a spin-out company co-founded by Ross Upton and Paul Leeson (Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility). The software will be made available for free throughout the NHS later this year.

Similar stories

Travels with Vignesh

CRM General

Vignesh Murugesan, a Postdoctoral Researcher in Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics (DPAG), describes how he found his way from the large metropolitan town of Chennai in India to studying regenerative medicine here in Oxford, via an 8 year stint in Sweden.

Genetic breakthrough to target care for deadly heart condition

CRE Research

Professor Watkins and his team have found a new type of genetic change in the DNA of people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) - a silent killer amongst families that can cause sudden death in young people due to the thickening of the heart muscle.

Earliest origins of the forming heart identified

CRE Research

The earliest known progenitor of the outermost layer of the heart has been characterised for the first time and linked to the development of other critical cell types in the developing heart in a new paper from the Srinivas group led by BHF Immediate Fellow Dr Richard Tyser.

Professor Sir Rory Collins awarded the MRC Millennium Medal 2020

CRE Research

Professor Sir Rory Collins, Head of the Nuffield Department of Population Health, and Principal Investigator and Chief Executive of UK Biobank, has been awarded the Medical Research Council (MRC) Millennium Medal 2020, the MRC’s most prestigious personal award.

New MRI technique could detect early signs of heart failure in cancer patients following chemotherapy

CRE Publication Research

New research led by Oxford BHF CRE Intermediate Transition Fellow Dr Kerstin Timm shows that a recently developed imaging technique pioneered by the Tyler Group can detect early metabolic changes in the heart caused by a commonly used chemotherapy drug, which is known to increase risk of heart failure in cancer survivors.