Hyderabad: India needs to have its own data of heart diseases to amalgamate the same with the latest technological tools, which will ultimately help identify people who can potentially develop heart disease in the future, eminent cardiologists said.
The Cardiological Society of India (CSI), the apex body of cardiologists, is trying to gather more data on every heart disease prevalent in India, CSI President P.P. Mohanan told IANS.
Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to detect heart ailments well in advance was one of the key subjects discussed during the just-concluded 73rd annual conference of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI).
The four-day event attended by 1,000 cardiologists, scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals deliberated modern advancements in heart care.
"We have to have big data. CSI has started efforts in this direction. This will not happen in a year or two, as it is a continuous process. We have to accrue big data and then go step by step. In the years to come, all these will help us formulate (a method), and identify people who can potentially develop heart disease in the future. This will not happen tomorrow or the day after, it will take time," he said.
The CSI, along with scientists and engineers, will be working towards developing 'Deep Neural Networks'; and achieving the target of accurately predicting heart risks in advance by 2030. It is keen to work with the government to reach the goal efficiently.
However, Mohanan clarified that this is the CSI's vision.
"People are trying to involve Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the prediction of heart diseases. We still have a long way to go, but the process is on," he said.
Mohanan believes that the technological tools will merely augment the cardiologist's capability.
"Essentially, it is the clinician, the cardiologist who is going to do all those things. He gets some augmented knowledge from Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning. Nothing is taking away his own clinical importance or clinical integrity," he said.
Mohanan said there is no magic formula anywhere in the world, which tells that a person will develop heart ailments.
"Nothing has happened, but people are working in many ways. Your genetic background, your risk factor profile etc. will help in prediction," he noted.
The conference, which saw the participation of specialists in AI and ML, discussed how cardiologists can amalgamate newer knowledge of digitisation.
"We are going to assimilate all that is happening and try to give the benefit of exponential information for the benefit of better heart care for the patients," the cardiologist said.
Amid the growing concern over more young people developing cardiac problems, the CSI is focusing on preventive cardiology.
Mohanan pointed out that the average age of developing a heart attack in India is 10 years prior to anybody in the world.
"South Asians have a predilection to develop heart attacks 10 years earlier. Ten-fifteen years ago, the percentage of people under 40 years or under 45 years developing heart attacks was few, maybe 5-7 per cent, but now some of the data which have come is alarming. Recent data from Bengaluru says that about 25 per cent of the patients are less than 40 years of age," Mohanan said.
He attributed this trend to the amount of stress the young generation is taking, lack of physical activity and air pollution.
"Nobody walks. Sitting is the new smoking. Air pollution is coming in a bigger way, causing substantial damage to your arteries, causing you hypertension, heart disease etc. New factors are on the anvil. We have to be absolutely guarded on account of all these factors," he said.
Thirty per cent of deaths across the world occur due to cardiovascular diseases.
"Unfortunately, in India the rate is higher. We presume it may be 35 per cent or even inching on to 38 per cent. Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. Eighteen million people die every year because of heart diseases," he said.
Mohanan pointed out that 80 per cent of heart diseases can be prevented provided people understand better. The CSI is trying to focus on creating awareness.
"People in India are mostly residing in rural areas. What we are doing is to stress on increasing awareness through various media platforms so that people know how to prevent heart attack, complications from diabetes or high blood pressure and how to prevent obesity. Prevention is the best solution," said CSI's president-elect, P.S. Banerjee.
Stressing on the preventive aspect of cardiology, the cardiologist said that once the disease is developed and there is a complication related to the disease, the cost of treatment will be high. Prevention is all the more important considering the low insurance coverage in the country of 135 crore population.
Banerjee believes that it will take some more years to popularise the use of AI applications for daily monitoring of pulse rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, ECG etc.
"This costs a good amount of money. The poor can't afford this. Instead, what we are doing is to help them understand how they should know that there is a problem occurring in their system and they should immediately contact their family physicians," Banerjee said.
As part of the CSI's efforts to create awareness, small groups of young doctors will visit the remote areas and with the help of local authorities, organise seminars where they will give demonstrations on CPR and educate people on lifestyle modification, effects of yoga, exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol and tobacco.