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Google AI Can Determine If a Person Has a Heart Ailment

Heart AttackThe eye is the window to one’s soul, so goes an adage.

But a person’s eyes can also show whether he or she “had high blood pressure or was at risk of a heart attack or stroke,” according to Google and its researchers belonging to its health technology subsidiary Verily.

The researchers announced early this week that they had developed algorithms that can predict if a person has heart disease or is at risk of a stroke.

(Read: 8 Ways to Lower Your Heart Disease Risk)

Studies have shown that heart disease is the leading cause of mortality worldwide.

Google said its researchers used images of retinas of over 200,000 patients across the U.S. and United Kingdom and fed them into the algorithms known as neural networks.

The scans helped train the networks on which signs “tended to indicate long-term health dangers.”

Blood Tests Still the Best Indicators

A Washington Post report on Google’s endeavor said, however, that “according to according to a study of the finding published in the Nature Biomedical Engineering journal, the algorithm didn’t outperform existing medical approaches such as blood tests.”

The WP also quoted “outside physicians” saying that “the work needs to be validated and repeated on more people before it gains broader acceptance.”

Aside from blood tests, physicians look for signs of heart disease by assessing factors like age, gender, weight, and if a person has any vice like smoking.

Cardiologist Harlan Krumholz said in an email to WP: “This may be a rapid way for people to screen for risk. Diagnosis is about to get turbo-charged by technology. And one avenue is to empower people with rapid ways to get useful information about their health.”

What’s Next?

Google’s researchers have developed algorithms that can predict if a person has heart disease or is at risk of a heart attack.

(Read: Apple Will Let You Keep Your Medical Records on Your iPhone)

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