A joint UK-US research team is applying a pioneering artificial intelligence system to map for the first time how the COVID-19 virus attacks the heart with such deadly impact.
The coronavirus has been found to kill more than one in ten victims with heart disease and also to significantly weaken the hearts of other sufferers.
This week, British health-tech company Ultromics and Mayo Clinic in the US will use AI software, EchoGo Core, to analyze echocardiograms of COVID-19 victims, for clues about how the virus affects the human cardiovascular system.
Their findings will produce, for the first time, a map of the ‘novel cardiac features’ of COVID-19 and help physicians rapidly triage and treat high-risk patients, potentially saving countless lives.
CEO of Ultromics, Ross Upton said: “To date, there is no way of linking the impact of the virus to predicted patient outcomes. By applying our technology to the evaluation of COVID associated echocardiograms, we can help understand the characteristics of cardiac involvement. We hope that by discovering a way to do this, patient management can be optimized – this is incredibly important where resources are scarce. Most importantly, we can give physicians the gift of time to treat those most in danger.”
Mayo Clinic is one of the world’s leading centers of cardiology and its extensive cardiac knowledge will assist Ultromics in the development of an image analysis application to help clinicians in the fight against COVID-19. The collaboration will be led by Gary Woodward, CTO of Ultromics and Patricia A. Pellikka, M.D. cardiologist and clinical researcher at Mayo Clinic.
The COVID-19 coronavirus has considerable potential for cardiovascular impact including COVID induced microvascular disease and myocarditis and also side-effects from some treatments, known as therapy-associated cardiotoxicity.
The multi-site study will look at 500 COVID-19 positive men and women, aged between 18 and 89. These participants will have undergone a clinically indicated echocardiography exam during a three-month period. The primary objective is the assessment of automated cardiac measurements, ejection fraction and Global Longitudinal Strain, for the classification of COVID-19 patient outcomes.
EchoGo Core has the opportunity to provide physicians with an alternative streamlined solution for monitoring and identifying heart disease, enabling healthcare providers, no matter what experience level, to perform analysis with ease. This could be hugely important in giving physicians freed time to provide high quality, patient-centric care.
Echocardiograms have a proven role in the identification and assessment of virtually all cardiac disease entities. The non-invasive method is cost-effective and widely available, ideal for bedside assessment of patients with suspected cardiac complications of COVID-19.