Speaking from the heart! Doctors say they can detect your risk of cardiovascular disease by listening to your VOICE
- Doctors trained an algorithm to evaluate 80 aspects of the human voice, such as tone
- AI detected possible signs of heart disease undetectable to human ears
- Patients that the AI deemed ‘high risk’ were 2.6 times more likely to have heart problems
Doctors can detect the risk of a heart attack in patients with cardiovascular disease by listening to the way they speak, suggests a study.
A computer algorithm was able to detect heart disease patients most at risk of serious complications by looking for clues in voice recordings.
Small changes in the frequency, pitch, or pitch of someone’s speech — which are undetectable to the human ear — provide clues to heart health, researchers said.
While the exact reason why the voice seems to be affected by heart health is unclear, doctors believe it has to do with how the nervous system regulates unconscious body functions such as the vocal cords, blood pressure and heart rate.
The researchers found that those who scored ‘high’ on the AI’s voice assessment were more than two and a half times more likely to suffer from complications of cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack.
It is hoped that the technique could one day be another tool to detect people at risk of heart disease, one of the biggest killers in Britain.
American researchers have trained an algorithm to detect small changes in the human voice that can be an indicator of heart disease
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, in the United States, tested an algorithm trained to analyze more than 80 aspects of the human voice, such as amplitude, tone and cadence.
They asked 108 patients referred for an X-ray for coronary artery disease, with an average age of 60 years, to record three 30-second samples of their voice on a smartphone.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) clogs blood vessels and can lead to angina, strokes or heart attacks
Coronary artery disease occurs when the main blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients are damaged.
CAD affects over 1.6 million men and one million women in the UK and a total of 15 million adults in the US.
It is usually due to plaque and inflammation.
When plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries, which decreases blood flow to the heart.
Over time, this can cause angina, while a complete blockage can result in a heart attack.
Many people have no symptoms at first, but as plaque builds up, they may experience chest pain or shortness of breath when exercising or being stressed.
Other causes of CAD include smoking, diabetes and an inactive lifestyle.
It can be prevented by stopping smoking, managing conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, staying active, eating well, and managing stress.
Medications can help lower cholesterol, while aspirin thins the blood to reduce the risk of clots.
In severe cases, stents can be placed in the arteries to open them up, while coronary artery bypass surgery creates a graft to bypass the blocked arteries using a vessel from another part of the body.
Source: mayo clinic
The first sample was the reading of a script, while for the other two exercises they were asked to speak freely about a positive and negative experience.
Each person was then classified by the algorithm as being at ‘high risk’ or ‘low risk’ of heart disease.
The researchers, who will officially present their findings at the 71st Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology in Washington DC next month, followed the participants for two years.
The researchers found that 58.3 percent of high scorers visited the hospital for chest pain or a heart attack in that time period, compared with just 30.6 percent of low scorers.
This meant that high scorers were 2.6 times more likely to suffer what doctors considered major coronary artery disease problems compared to low scorers.
The highest scorers were also three times more likely to show evidence of fat buildup in their arteries on medical tests.
Coronary artery disease occurs when the main blood vessels that supply the heart become narrowed by the accumulation of fatty deposits.
It can lead to heart attacks when these deposits break down and lead to a blood clot that blocks the blood supply to the organ.
A high-fat diet, smoking, and conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes can all increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Jaskanwal Sara, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said that if the development of voice analysis goes further, it could provide a non-invasive and cost-effective way to identify patients at risk for coronary artery disease.
“We’re not suggesting that voice analytics technology replace doctors or existing methods of delivering healthcare,” he said.
‘But we think there’s a huge opportunity for voice technology to act as a complement to existing strategies.
‘Providing a voice sample is very intuitive and even pleasant for patients, and could become a scalable way for us to improve patient management.’
Sara says much more research needs to be done on using voice analysis to assess heart health before it can be used clinically.
In particular, he said more studies are needed to determine whether the results can be replicated across different languages and accents.
It’s not the first time that patient voice patterns have been used to assess heart health, however, in contrast to the most recent study, the research was done retrospectively after patients had experienced problems such as heart failure.
Similar studies have also tried to use subtle changes in patterns of addiction to detect conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and even Covid infection.
Coronary artery disease affects over 1.6 million men and one million women in the UK and a total of 15 million adults in the US. It kills 64,000 Britons and 360,900 Americans a year.