Illustration showing EKG and heart (© Shutterstock)
(© Shutterstock)

U.S. innovators have developed new software that uses artificial intelligence to help medical professionals capture ultrasound images for detecting heart disease, dramatically expanding early detection of the world’s deadliest disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) February 7 approved marketing of Caption Health Inc.’s new software, called Caption Guidance, that will increase the number of clinicians who can capture the high-quality images of the heart that are needed for diagnosis.

Electronic device displaying ultrasound image and other data (© Patrick T. Power/Caption Health)
Caption Health says its product is the world’s first AI-guided software for cardiac ultrasounds. (© Patrick T. Power/Caption Health)

“No patient should have to forgo a potentially life-saving cardiac ultrasound,” Caption Health chief executive Andy Page said in a February 7 statement. “Through the power of artificial intelligence, Caption Guidance will provide patients with unprecedented access to ultrasound when and where they need it most.”

Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. According to the World Health Organization, 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2016, or 31 percent of all deaths globally. Of those deaths, 85 percent resulted from heart attack or stroke.

An FDA statement says cardiac ultrasounds are a primary tool for early detection and treatment of heart conditions. Using artificial intelligence technology, the software allows a non-expert to conduct an ultrasound — a non-invasive procedure — and capture high-quality images.

The approval “is especially important because it demonstrates the potential for artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to increase access to safe and effective cardiac diagnostics that can be life-saving for patients,” the FDA statement says.

In February 2019, President Trump announced an American Artificial Intelligence Initiative to promote research on and development of advanced technologies and to provide ethical guidelines for their use.

“Continued American leadership in AI is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” Trump said.