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Artificial intelligence may help doctors diagnose heart patients faster

With the help of AI, doctors have a chance to see decreased heart function, which in the age of COVID-19, could mean getting patients the right treatment sooner.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With the help of some local research, a new test could help doctors diagnose patients faster and with more accuracy.

Seconds matter when a patient with shortness of breath shows up in the emergency room. It’s one of the symptoms of COVID-19 -- and also one of the symptoms of a heart condition.

The beep and lines of an electrocardiogram, an EKG, are one of the most familiar sounds of a hospital. The century-old tech measures the heart’s signals are getting an upgrade with an algorithm measured by researchers at Mayo Clinic.

With the help of AI, doctors have a chance to see decreased heart function, which in the age of COVID-19, could mean getting patients the right treatment sooner.

“It provides an opportunity to lead them to cardiovascular care so we don't miss them in the emergency room,” Dr. Demilade Adesinsewo a cardiologist fellow at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville said. Dr. Adesinsewo led the study, which has been published by the American Heart Association

It's about a ten-second test, which can help sort out why a patient is short of breath: an underlying heart condition or in the age of COVID-19, point to another cause.

“This tool can identify someone who comes in short of breath whether it is COVID-19 or not who has underlying cardiac dysfunction,” Adesinsewo said. 

The AI-EKG recently gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration to be used as a diagnostic tool during the pandemic. Meaning with time, the test could gain use across the country, particularly in rural areas where access may pose a challenge.

"When cardiologists aren’t available, this provides additional information that the provider would otherwise not have because they didn’t have an EKG,” Adesinsewo said.