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Health Fusion: Eye exams may help predict heart attack

What do your eyes have to do with heart disease? In this episode of NewMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams explains how a trip to the optometrist could help predict your risk of heart attack, thanks to AI technology.

Low-Res_Retinal scan.jpg.png
A scan of the eye
Contributed / UK Biobank
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ROCHESTER — Shakespeare said that "the eyes are the windows to the soul." Well, now they also may be a clue as to whether or not you're at risk of having a heart attack.

Researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK have developed AI technology that's trained to can scan your retina to detect signs of heart disease. And they say it can predict whether or not you're likely to have a heart attack in the next wear with 70% to 80% accuracy.

How can the technology do this? The researchers say the system checks tiny blood vessels in your retina for signs of damage, which is an indicator of vascular disease in other parts of the body. The system can also identify how well one of the chambers of your heart pumps.

“Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, are the leading cause of early death worldwide," says Dr. Alex Frangi who supervised the research.

The research team says that the technology could be a cheap, more accessible and revolutionary way to screen for heart disease. People who are identified as being at risk, could then be referred to cardiac specialists.

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The research is published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence.

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For comments or article and podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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