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AI to Detect, Monitor Heart Disease in Singapore

The National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS)  has opened a research laboratory for cardiac imaging that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect and predict cardiovascular diseases. According to a press statement, the Cardiovascular Systems Imaging and Artificial Intelligence (CVS.AI) research laboratory is the first of its kind in Singapore and Southeast Asia to study the different aspects of heart diseases using various imaging methods, such as CT, MRI and nuclear imaging.

The 185-bed heart referral centre, which sees over 120,000 outpatients yearly, performed almost 17,000 heart scans last year. The CVS.AI lab will leverage the large amount of information collected at NHCS to enhance the precision and efficiency of predicting and identifying cardiovascular diseases.

Specifically, the research lab aims to provide AI techniques in capturing and interpreting cardiac images; conduct in-depth assessments of cardiovascular diseases among at-risk populations, and discover complex patterns of cardiovascular diseases.

In 2020, nearly one in three deaths or 31.7% of total deaths in Singapore was due to CVDs, such as heart disease and stroke.  The NHCS has been integrating AI into cardiovascular care provision. With its ability to provide very detailed reports, the technology has enabled them to track and monitor disease progression, as well as manage and administer treatment for heart diseases at an early stage.

The researchers witness how AI can help them make sense of small and large pieces of data, and even predict future progression of the disease, and its great potential to address challenges relating to diagnostics. Over time, this can potentially save costs, broaden the accessibility of cardiac scans to patients, and improve overall healthcare for our population.

SingHealth, which the NHCS is part of, signed a three-year partnership with Singapore Innovate to further the adoption of AI and other emerging technologies in healthcare. The healthcare group also recently entered into a collaboration with National Supercomputing Centre Singapore.

As part of the partnership, they will support SingHealth’s Artificial Intelligence for Transformation of Medicine Programme, which works to develop AI algorithms that predict a patient’s risk of cardiovascular events. Across Asia-Pacific, public and private stakeholders have also pursued initiatives to advance the application of AI in the diagnosis and prediction of heart diseases.

A new tool that could lead to faster diagnosis of heart disease had already been invented by researchers in Singapore. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), it uses electrocardiograms (ECGs) and has an accuracy rate of 98.5%. ECGs measure the electrical activity of heartbeats to detect heart abnormalities.

Invented by a team from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), the new diagnostic tool uses an AI machine learning algorithm that enables computers to learn from past experiences like a human.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, Singapore’s National University Health System (NUHS) adopted a virtual wards system to care for Covid-19 patients remotely. Clinicians from NUHS share how virtual wards have saved patients more than five thousand overnight stays in the hospital. They explain why a virtual wards system may prove vital to addressing future challenges. NUHS’ virtual wards enable COVID-19 patients to recover at home, given that their condition doesn’t require hospitalisation.

Doctors and nurses monitor the health of these recovering patients in two ways. First, patients or patients’ families will speak with caregivers every one to two days through video or audio calls. This call could include an examination, where patients are required to perform a simple exercise like standing up and sitting down. This is where the second form of monitoring comes in. Wearable devices allow NUHS  to monitor patients’ blood oxygen levels, temperature and pulse rate while they recover at home.

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