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Breakthrough Digital Technology Solutions to Improve Heart and Brain Health Globally

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 19 Jan 2024
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Image: Research aims to harness technology for improved heart and brain health (Photo courtesy of American Heart Association)
Image: Research aims to harness technology for improved heart and brain health (Photo courtesy of American Heart Association)

The need for technology-based solutions to enhance healthcare is evident, yet many people are hesitant to embrace these solutions due to issues like lack of trust, relevance, or ease of use. Recognizing these challenges, the research community is actively working to validate and develop scalable, engaging health-tech solutions that could benefit individuals across various socioeconomic backgrounds. The Journal of the American Heart Association has dedicated a special issue to showcasing research projects focused on innovative digital technology solutions aimed at improving heart and brain health globally.

Among the notable studies featured in this issue comes from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (CCHMC, Cincinnati, OH, USA). The research involved developing a point-of-care echocardiography method to enhance cardiac diagnostic access for American Indian communities, particularly in remote areas. This study in primary care clinics within the Indian Health Service demonstrated that clinicians, even those previously unfamiliar with echocardiography, could be effectively trained to perform point-of-care screening echocardiograms. Interestingly, the study revealed that nearly 6% of American Indians screened had a newly identified, clinically significant abnormality.

Another significant research highlighted in the issue was conducted by Children’s National Hospital (Washington, DC, USA), focusing on the use of artificial intelligence in detecting rheumatic heart disease through echocardiography, specifically targeting mitral regurgitation. Echocardiography is crucial for early detection of rheumatic heart disease, particularly in children who may not yet exhibit symptoms. The goal is to prevent the disease from advancing. The study explored the application of machine learning in identifying and analyzing mitral regurgitation on standard portable echocardiograms. The findings were promising, indicating that the AI method could detect rheumatic heart disease with accuracy comparable to expert cardiologists. This suggests that AI could be an effective tool in expanding access to echocardiography screening, potentially enabling larger-scale screenings by non-physician healthcare workers.

“These initial findings are promising. They represent an important step toward our goal — the validation of scalable digital solutions for cardiovascular disease,” said American Heart Association volunteer and author of the issue’s Editor’s Page James A. Weyhenmeyer, Ph.D. “Research projects underway and featured in this special journal issue look at creating digital solutions and making them evidence-based, accessible and user-friendly — whether health care professionals or patients use them.”

Related Links:
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Children’s National Hospital

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