Breakthrough will save thousands of lives from leading cause of death worldwide

A revolutionary new medical device that can predict coronary artery disease – the number one cause of death globally – has been developed by a UK health-tech firm in a world first.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the UK and affects half of men and a third of women. It kills one in seven men and one in twelve women in the UK, striking every eight minutes.

The pioneering technology, called EchoGo Pro, is the first to successfully use artificial intelligence (AI) to make predictions about coronary heart disease (CAD) risk through ultrasound analysis – the primary imaging test to diagnose heart disease, with a staggering 60,000 Stress Echo scans performed in the UK each year.

EchoGo Pro has been developed by Ultromics, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford and is now CE marked allowing it to be used across the UK and the EU, with plans to submit for FDA clearance, so it can be used in the US by 2021. 

Fast prognosis for medical teams

EchoGo Pro is able to deliver heart disease prognosis to hospital sites through its secure cloud system, built in partnership with the NHS, based on thousands of past clinical exams. The system automatically analyses ultrasound images and applies artificial intelligence to identify disease, analysing thousands of data points, compared to 5-6 indicators in traditional visual inspection. EchoGo Pro generates a report in minutes and sends a prognosis to the doctor treating the patient. 

Reducing misdiagnosis and enabling earlier prevention of heart disease

Ultromics co-founder and CEO, Ross Upton, said: “EchoGo Pro identifies the risk of heart disease, helping to detect early signs and enable preventative steps before a heart attack strikes, ultimately saving lives. 

“The high level of precision and its speed of use means doctors, regardless of their level of experience or training, can make accurate recommendations to patients to help reduce misdiagnosis.”

Unfortunately, misdiagnosis of cardiovascular disease occurs in one in five patients due to a complex web of symptoms, circumstances and comorbidities, which doesn’t make it easy for doctors to correctly identify conditions in traditional visual inspection. EchoGo Pro is able to identify these hard to spot features.

Ross added: “Misdiagnosis rates will be much lower and at-risk people can be treated quickly whilst those not at risk will be spared unnecessary tests, surgery, and other treatment.” The reduction in misdiagnoses can make a big difference to hospital and healthcare providers, saving them money and medical resources.

Optimizing care pathways and streamlining patient care

EchoGo Pro can mean valuable time savings for doctors and the healthcare system. The AI system streamlines hospital’s workflow, to help reduce the burden on doctors, freeing up their time so they can spend time with patients and potentially treat more people. 

Proven diagnostic performance

EchoGo Pro was trialled in the UK and US and achieved a diagnostic performance of over 90% (AUROC), halving the number of misdiagnoses compared to reports of routine clinical practice. The technology has been developed through its partnership in the EVAREST trial with the NHS, one of the largest ultrasound programmes in the world, trained on tens of thousands of heart scans. The EVAREST validation trial continues to run in over 30 NHS hospitals and has recruited over 6000 patients. 

Professor Paul Leeson, Head of the Oxford Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility, who co-founded Ultromics with Mr Upton, added: “The CE mark for EchoGo Pro is an important time in the battle against heart disease where real progress is being made to help improve patient outcomes and prevent heart disease. Leveraging AI technology means we can more accurately predict heart disease and optimise care pathways – to help make valuable cost and time savings for healthcare systems at this time when they are already stretched and in much need of support.”In time, Ultromics hopes to develop versions of EchoGo Pro that can be deployed in handheld devices, and which can be used to improve heart function testing and analysis in remote areas of the world, or places with limited health infrastructure.