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AI-Powered Smart Stethoscope Can Screen for Heart Failure During Physical Exams

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Jan 2022
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Image: Eko Smart Stethoscope (Photo courtesy of Eko)
Image: Eko Smart Stethoscope (Photo courtesy of Eko)

An independent study has validated the first artificial intelligence (AI)-powered device to screen for heart failure during a standard physical exam.

The study conducted by Eko (Oakland, CA, USA) and the Imperial College of London (London, UK), in conjunction with the UK National Health Service, has highlighted Eko's ability to screen patients for heart failure in seconds with AI during physical exams. Eko's low ejection fraction algorithm (ELEFT) detects a weakened heart pump, which is present in about half of heart failure patients.

In the study, the algorithm's performance at detecting a weak heart pump was excellent compared to the current gold standard of echocardiography. Approximately 26 million people are estimated to have heart failure worldwide. Diagnosis is a significant challenge given that heart failure symptoms are also associated with many other conditions and detection often requires a series of expensive tests. Using the Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope with ELEFT, heart failure caused by a weakened heart pump can be detected in seconds during a stethoscope exam.

The study found that when 15-second recordings were taken with the DUO at one chest location, the algorithm was 81% accurate at identifying normal and impaired heart pumping function. Accuracy went up to 86% when two recording locations were used. The tool will be submitted to the FDA under "Breakthrough Designation" for a formal review later this year.

"This tool allows healthcare professionals to reliably rule in or rule out heart failure at the point of care," said Dr. Nicholas Peters, Professor of Cardiology, Imperial College London. "The result will be earlier diagnosis and treatment and the avoidance of unnecessary and expensive tests for those in whom heart failure is ruled out. This means better and more cost-effective healthcare. It's a total game-changer."

"The superhuman capability to screen patients at any point of care, including before surgery, should challenge the unacceptable reality that 80% of patients with heart failure are currently diagnosed through an emergency hospital admission," said Dr. Patrick Bachtiger, lead author and a clinical research fellow at the UK's National Heart and Lung Institute. "The current clinical pathway simply misses too many patients, leaving them undiagnosed until very sick. This tool can save time and money and unlock major benefits for patients through early diagnosis and effective treatments."

"This is a landmark study for multiple reasons," said Dr. Adam Saltman, Chief Medical Officer at Eko. "The investigators showed that the low ejection fraction detection algorithm can quickly, easily, and effectively identify the patients who have impaired heart pumping function, even if those patients don't yet have symptoms."

Related Links:
Eko 
Imperial College of London 

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