GOOGLE AI: Now Predict Your Risk of Heart Disease by Just Retina Scan
GOOGLE AI: Now Predict Your Risk of Heart Disease by Just Retina Scan

Google AI, Google-created artificial intelligence software, can use to calculate your risk factors for heart disease.

According to a study recently published in the Nature Biomedical Engineering journal, an AI algorithm was created by Google AI and Verily Life Sciences (an Alphabet subsidiary that spun off from Google). It can predict whether a patient is likely to suffer a major cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke within five years, based on a photo of their retina.

Learning to predict heart disease

Doctors often spot medical conditions including diabetes, extreme high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers during eye exams.

To mimic that ability, Google researchers trained AI software to identify cardiovascular risks by having the system analyze retina photos and health data from 284,335 patients. Specifically, it looked at retinal fundus images — photos that show blood vessels in the eye.

Known risk factors for cardiovascular disease include age, blood pressure, and gender, among other things. Based on an eye scan, the algorithm was able to predict a person’s age to within 3.26 years, smoking status with 71% accuracy, and blood pressure within 11 units of the upper number reported in their measurement.

The algorithm was very effective at assessing these factors. So the researchers decided to see how well it could predict actual strokes and heart attacks.

They used data from a set of 150 patients that had suffered major cardiovascular events within five years of their eye scan. That data set included 12,026 people. Among them only several hundred experienced a major cardiac health event, with clinical data available for 150 of those patients. When the researchers presented the algorithm with two retina images and asked it to predict which one would suffer a major cardiac event, it predicted the correct scan.