Every year 18 million people die from cardiovascular disease. Making it the deadliest disease in the world. Currently studies focus mainly on the heart, leaving the influence of vascular disease on these large numbers of deaths often out of sight. Despite vascular disorders being a trustworthy indicator for death from heart disease.
VASCUL-AID, a large European study led by Amsterdam UMC, will therefore focus on using AI to predict the worsening of vascular disease in people with an aortic aneurysm or peripheral arterty disease. In a quarter of people, the aforementioned conditions lead to heart problems or even a stroke. Today, VASCUL-AID launches thanks to a Horizon grant worth 6.4 million euros.
Thinking outside of the Heart
Kak Khee Yeung, vascular surgeon Amsterdam UMC and leader of European research: “Our vessels are an important part of the cardiovascular system that keeps people alive. Once you have a vascular disorder such as an aneurysm, we see that the aggravation of these diseases also increases the chance that you will eventually die from another cardiovascular disease. This indicates to us that we also need to investigate how we can stop these conditions that seem to occur outside the heart, but that do affect the functioning of the cardiovascular system.”
“At the moment it isn’t possible to predict the course of aneurysm or of peripheral artery disease. People live in uncertainty about how their disease will develop and this results in many hospital visits and treatments. We would like to identify and isolate people with a high risk of their condition worsening from the large group in order to develop a more specific treatment plan. VASCUL-AID should make this possible,” says Yeung.
Identifying a high-risk vascular patient with AI
VASCUL-AID will unite partners across Europe to develop infrastructure in which data from patients with aneurysms and peripheral artery disease can be monitored. Six clinics across Europe, including Oxford University, will actively collect data from these patients. Using genetic data and imaging studies, as well as looking at protein profiles in blood and medication use. This will then be combined with existing databases and biobanks.
Patients will also gather their own data. An app has been developed that will gather data from telephones and wearable device relating to, for example, daily activity and quality of life as well as their heart rate.
“The markers that only characterize the high-risk group must be discovered from all the data. By using (AI) techniques, we will analyze all this data in order to subsequently identify the patients who are at the highest risk of worsening cardiovascular disease. They can then be helped earlier by medication adjustments or earlier surgical treatment.”
VASCUL-AID is one of the largest European studies using AI in cardiovascular disease to develop a personalized treatment plan. Special attention within the research will also be given to the development of reliable AI tools that can actually be used in the workplace.