Connecting the Dots In Healthcare: A Lesson From the Heart

Connecting the Dots In Healthcare: A Lesson From the Heart

John Nosta 06/07/2021
Connecting the Dots In Healthcare: A Lesson From the Heart

New data suggest that we can predict age and gender from a simple electrocardiogram (ECG).

Listen to your heart. You can learn a lot!

And it seems that this might apply to some basic aspects your physiology too. A publication in Circulation suggests that an ECG (echocardiogram) can reveal some interesting and specific information about yourself that we have generally not associated with the electrical beating of the heart: age and gender. 

Now think about that a bit. Applying artificial intelligence to a simple diagnostic test, a test that's available as a consumer device, can crunch that data and find new insights into our physiology and beyond. In this trial, the ability to "calculate" a subject's age was around 90%. The calculation of age may also provide a valuable marker that expresses "physiologic" age and is an indicator of overall health and wellness. As the authors stated:

Applying AI to the ECG allows robust detection of patient sex and estimation of age. The ability of an AI algorithm to determine physiological age, with further validation, has the potential to serve as a rapid measure of overall health status, though will require further validation in well-characterized, prospectively followed cohorts. 

Now let's talk about Kevin Bacon's ECG for a minute. Remember the notion of six degrees of separation? The idea suggested that we are all connected by five people. It seems that big data and AI are finding similar connections from a clinical perspective. Five degrees of clinical connection, or four or three or even two, can find health composite metrics that can drive care. Insights from various data sources and sets are emerging as powerful tools that can predict disease, therapy, and prognosis. And perhaps most interestingly, these newfound data points can be derived from basic clinical information that is neither expensive nor invasive.

Determining sex or age from a 10 second, 12-lead ECG is just a hint at how technology can interpret physiologic data in new, powerful, and exciting ways! Unique and unexpected combinations of data points offer a glimpse of where we are today, and we're were going tomorrow.

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John Nosta

Digital Health Expert

John is the #1 global influencer in digital health and generally regarded as one of the top global strategic and creative thinkers in this important and expanding area. He is also one the most popular speakers around the globe presenting his vibrant and insightful perspective on the future of health innovation. His focus is on guiding companies, NGOs, and governments through the dynamics of exponential change in the health / tech marketplaces. He is also a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, pens HEALTH CRITICAL for Forbes--a top global blog on health & technology and THE DIGITAL SELF for Psychology Today—a leading blog focused on the digital transformation of humanity. He is also on the faculty of Exponential Medicine. John has an established reputation as a vocal advocate for strategic thinking and creativity. He has built his career on the “science of advertising,” a process where strategy and creativity work together for superior marketing. He has also been recognized for his ability to translate difficult medical and scientific concepts into material that can be more easily communicated to consumers, clinicians and scientists. Additionally, John has distinguished himself as a scientific thinker. Earlier in his career, John was a research associate at Harvard Medical School and has co-authored several papers with global thought-leaders in the field of cardiovascular physiology with a focus on acute myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

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