Research into artificial intelligence technology that can detect heart disease risks in people who appear to have no other symptoms has received approval to be used in the UK and across Europe.

CaRi-Heart, a technology funded in part by the British Heart Foundation, uses AI analysis to examine coronary CT angiogram (CCTA) imagery to detect potential risk factors for people and allow for rapid intervention and close monitoring.

Traditionally, CCTAs are used for patients with angina and look specifically for narrowed or blocked blood vessels near the heart. However, before the use of AI, many patients were sent home without treatment as no arteries were sufficiently blocked to cause concern.

As many heart conditions, such as myocarditis, occur without warning, understanding the inner workings of the heart and the exact causes of heart attacks in situations where they occur without warning is a vital tool.

The AI technology uses a deep-learning algorithm to give each blood vessel a Fat Attenuation Index score, which measures the inflammation of blood vessels, which can help find people who are at a much higher risk than initially seen.

A British Heart Foundation study found that a third of people initially considered low risk after their first CCTA scan had a much higher risk later after the AI technology was run on their scan.

With approval by the EU and the NHS, this technology can be rolled out and help better predict a person’s risk of heart complications, and the designers behind the tool are developing a similar technology to identify Covid-19 patients at risk of stroke or heart attack.