• Cardiovascular

    Clinical research shows AI-enabled digital stethoscope can detect pregnancy-related heart disease

closeup of the hand of a white medical worker holding a stethoscope up to a transparent graphic of medical symbols

New research from Mayo Clinic suggests that artificial intelligence (AI) could improve the diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy, a potentially life-threatening and treatable condition that weakens the heart muscle of women during pregnancy or in the months after giving birth. Researchers used an AI-enabled digital stethoscope that captures electrocardiogram (ECG) data and heart sounds to identify twice as many cases of peripartum cardiomyopathy as compared to regular care, according to a news release from the American Heart Association.

Identifying a weak heart pump caused by pregnancy is important because the symptoms, such as shortness of breath when lying down, swelling of hands and feet, weight gain, and rapid heartbeat, can be confused with normal symptoms of pregnancy.

Dr. Demilade Adedinsewo, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, shared research insights during a late-breaking science presentation at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2023.

Women in Nigeria have the highest reported incidence of peripartum cardiomyopathy. The randomized pragmatic clinical trial enrolled 1,195 women receiving pregnancy care in Nigeria. Approximately half were evaluated with AI-guided screening using the digital stethoscope, and half received usual obstetric care in addition to a clinical ECG. An echocardiogram was used to confirm when the AI-enabled digital stethoscope predicted peripartum cardiomyopathy. Overall, 4% of the pregnant and postpartum women in the intervention arm of the clinical trial had cardiomyopathy compared to 2% in the control arm, suggesting that half are likely undetected with usual care.

Watch: Dr. Adedinsewo explains the red flags for heart failure during pregnancy