An artificial intelligence (AI) app can detect increased fluid in lungs by simply hearing voice changes over time—and the increased fluid in lungs can be a sign of heart failure.
A version of this article was published by HCPLive®. This version has been lightly edited.
In a recent study, a smartphone app using artificial intelligence (AI) predicted heart failure (HF) 3 weeks before hospitalization—all because of a person’s voice.
The late-breaking science was presented Monday, November 13, 2023, at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.1
AI is becoming more prevalent in the medical field with aiding diagnostics. According to the Southern Medical Association, approximately 5% of outpatients in the United States in 2021 receive an incorrect diagnosis, so AI helps to assist diagnoses. Three years ago, scientists at Babylon Health developed new AI symptom checkers to help cut diagnosis mistakes in primary care.2 So, while using AI for diagnoses is not brand-new, the new app in the study can improve the treatment for HF specifically.
The app uses an AI technology called the Cardio HearO system to detect changes in the voice over time, with speech measures including pitch, volume, dynamics, and other characteristics. Voice changes may indicate increases of lung fluid, which is a sign of progressing HF. In the study, the app predicted more than 75% of hospitalizations about 3 weeks before they each happened.
“Speech analysis is novel technology that may be a useful tool in remote monitoring of heart failure patients, providing early warning of worsening heart failure that frequently results in hospitalization,” William T. Abraham, MD, FAHA, professor of internal medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, lead investigator of the study, said in the AHA press release. “This technology has the potential to improve patient outcomes, keeping patients well and out of the hospital, through the implementation of proactive, outpatient care in response to voice changes.”
The investigators conducted the study from March 2018 through April 2023, and included 416 adults with HF in Israel. Most of the participants were male (75%), and the average age was 68 years old. Every participant recorded 5 sentences in their native language—Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, or English—into the app daily. While the training phrase of the study included 263 participants to develop the AI algorithm, only 153 participants were used to test the tool’s effectiveness.
The app predicted 76% of worsening HF about 24 days before hospitalization in the training phase of the study, with only 3 unnecessary alerts per patient per year. During the validation phase, the app was 71% accurate in detecting HF in roughly 3 weeks. Similarly, there were also 3 unexplained alerts per patient per year.
While the findings revealed the AI app can predict HF early, one major limitation was that the participant sample had been small. However, an ongoing US-based study continues to train and validate the Cardio HearO technology.