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Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is pioneering the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for cardiac screening in a new study of Eko’s cardiac monitoring platform. The study aims to demonstrate that Eko’s digital stethoscopes and AI algorithms can interpret heart sounds accurately to help screen for pathologic heart murmurs and valvular heart disease.

Eko is funding the study of the AI systems at two sites, planning to enrol 1,000 patients, 800 of them at Northwestern. The clinical trial is part of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute’s new Center for Artificial Intelligence, where Northwestern’s cardiovascular clinical programme works with early innovators in AI, develops new products, and trains physicians in this new field through Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Masters programme in AI.

James Thomas (director of the Northwestern’s Center for Heart Valve Disease, Chicago, USA), the principal investigator for the study at Northwestern, says: “If proven effective, Eko’s platform could be a much simpler, lower cost way to identify patients with heart disease. We are looking to support and advance work that broadens access to the best diagnostic tools in healthcare, regardless of whether a patient lives in the city or a more rural area. Deep learning provides that expert knowledge, regardless of a patient’s location.”

Connor Landgraf, CEO of Eko, states: “One of the biggest problems in healthcare is that general practitioners so often miss heart murmurs that if found earlier would allow patients to get treatment before problems arise. Northwestern is known for their work in valvular heart diseases and together we are working on AI technology that will detect the two most prevalent valve diseases with the sensitivity of a cardiologist. The results of this study will work to bridge the gap for general practitioners and early detection of these life threatening conditions.”

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