How the Valley Hospital is using AI to prevent heart attacks

Research shows 50% of patients who will experience a heart attack will do so without experiencing prior warning symptoms.

That’s not good, considering heart attacks are the most common cause of death in both men and women.

The Valley Hospital is working to change theat.

Valley is among the first to use noninvasive, artificial intelligence imaging technology to prevent heart attacks by characterizing unstable plaque buildup with a high potential to rupture that can lead to a heart attack, the hospital said.

Understanding that heart attack prevention would benefit high-risk, nonsymptomatic patients, such as individuals diagnosed with diabetes or high cholesterol, Cleerly Coronary has pioneered an alternate approach to heart attack prevention that focuses on identifying the critical characteristics of coronary artery plaque.

Cleerly’s alternative prevention approach leverages coronary artery phenotyping — a technique to define the characteristics of plaque buildup. This approach builds upon traditional CT angiography testing — a noninvasive test used to identify plaque buildup and narrowing of the heart’s coronary arteries — to help physicians identify which high-risk, nonsymptomatic patients are at higher risk for heart attack.

Dr. Gerald Sotsky, the director of cardiac services at the Valley Hospital, explains it in simpler terms.

“Think of it in terms of eggs,” he said. “If you were throwing an egg back and forth with a friend, you would want your egg to have a thick outer shell to prevent cracking.

“When applied to plaque buildup, the same rule applies. A highly calcified plaque may be less likely to become unstable, but a thin, fatty plaque may be more likely to rupture and lead to a heart attack.”

Using an artificial intelligence approach and machine learning algorithms, Cleery compares each patient’s plaque characteristics to a database comprised of cardiac imaging and data from large-scale clinical trials. In as little as one hour, a real-time diagnosis report is generated for the health care provider, detailing conditions of underlying heart disease, characteristics of any present coronary blockages and risk of a future heart attack.

Dr. Himanshu Gupta, the director of cardiac imaging, has the stats to prove it.

“Up to 80% of heart attacks are preventable with early diagnosis and treatment,” he said. “Cleerly has revolutionized our clinical ability to prevent heart attacks in patients who are considered high-risk. This is a game-changing prevention tool that allows us to provide patients with the right care at the right time.”

“To date, Valley’s team completed approximately 170 studies using Cleerly Coronary analysis. In my opinion, this analysis, combined with the physician’s review and analysis, provides an increased level of confidence in evaluating coronary artery disease, especially patients with significant coronary calcification.”

For more information about the Valley Heart and Vascular Institute, click here.