New artificial intelligence tool predicts diabetes risk - Barts Charity
Doctors looking at a screen

New artificial intelligence tool predicts diabetes risk

Our funding has helped researchers to develop a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can automatically measure the amount of fat around the heart.

  • Date: July 14, 2021

Predicting diabetes risk

With our funding, researchers have developed a tool that can predict diabetes risk.
Using the new AI tool, the team was able to show that a larger amount of fat around the heart is associated with significantly greater odds of diabetes, independent of a person’s age, sex, and body mass index.
The distribution of fat in the body can influence a person’s risk of developing various diseases. The commonly used measure of body mass index (BMI) mostly reflects fat under the skin, rather than around the internal organs. There are suggestions that fat around the heart may be a predictor of heart disease. This has also been linked to a range of conditions, including atrial fibrillation, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.

Previous methods too challenging

The research team tested the AI algorithm’s ability to interpret images from heart MRI scans of more than 45,000 people, including participants in the UK Biobank, a database of health information from over half a million participants from across the UK.
The team found that the AI tool was accurately able to determine the amount of fat around the heart in those images, and it was also able to calculate a patient’s risk of diabetes.
The research is published in the journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.

An accurate prediction

Lead researcher Dr Zahra Raisi-Estabragh from Queen Mary University of London said: “Unfortunately, manual measurement of the amount of fat around the heart is challenging and time-consuming. For this reason, to date, no-one has been able to investigate this thoroughly in studies of large groups of people.
“To address this problem, we’ve invented an AI tool that can be applied to standard heart MRI scans. It obtains a measure of the fat around the heart automatically and quickly – in under three seconds. This tool can be used by future researchers to discover more about the links between the fat around the heart and disease risk.”

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