ShinyShiny Health Round Up: NHS uses AI to spot future heart attacks

The NHS is using artificial intelligence to treat patients at risk of a heart attack, years before they strike. CaRi-Heart can spot minor problems undetected by routine scans, Oxford University researchers say, identifying inflammation and scarring in the lining of blood vessels that supply the heart. The tool is being rolled out at 15 hospitals around the country. And the NHS hopes up to 350,000 patients could benefit every year. About three out of every four patients who have a generic computer-assisted tomography (Cat) scan after chest pains are given the all-clear. “The beauty of our technology is that it will not only save countless lives but it is incredibly simple,” former British Heart Foundation researcher Dr Cheerag Shirodaria, who worked on the project, said. BBC

Looking up symptoms on the Internet can actually slightly improve your ability to diagnose illness based on its symptoms without increasing anxiety, a study has found. Researchers from the US tested the ability of 5,000 volunteers to diagnose an illness, based on a given list of symptoms, before and after consulting the web. The findings fly in the face of the commonly-given advice to avoid consulting ‘Dr Google’ before visiting a GP’s clinic. Doctors have feared that looking up symptoms online may act to raise peoples’ anxiety levels, a phenomenon dubbed ‘cyberchondria‘. While the new findings suggest that this may not be the case, the team warned that the study did not look at self-diagnosis, in which people may react differently. Daily Mail. 

Over at Tech Radar, former ShinyShiny editor Becca Caddy, takes a look at the future of ‘cuffless’ blood pressure monitoring. As well as interviewing medical experts, she looks at a new wearable called the Aktiia, available to pre-order now for £159.99 in the UK. “We’ve had a hands-on with a sample unit of the Aktiia and can confirm it’s even slimmer than a fitness tracker and more comfortable too – the big difference is it doesn’t have a screen,” writes Caddy. “I love seeing data in real-time, but understand why a more subtle approach is not only more appealing for a wider audience but lessens the anxiety some people feel when thinking about and taking their blood pressure.” Tech Radar 

Don’t wear contact lenses while showering, a doctor has warned after a study showed a seven-fold increase in risk of developing eyesight-threatening infection.Researchers at the University of Southampton found showering in lenses daily to be the most significant risk factor for developing contact lens-related microbial keratitis (CLMK). This was followed by sleeping in lenses, with people aged between 25 and 54 most likely to be affected. Just under half of patients studied suffered some form of vision loss as a result of infection. CLMK causes pain and redness in the eye and can lead to ulcers and scarring on the cornea. It can worsen rapidly and is one of the leading causes of unilateral blindness (affecting one eye) worldwide. Telegraph

Another story from the University of Southampton where scientists have developed a new way of using nanomaterials to identify and enrich skeletal stem cells – a discovery which could eventually lead to new treatments for major bone fractures and the repair of lost or damaged bone. In laboratory tests, the researchers used gold nanoparticles – tiny spherical particles made up of thousands of gold atoms – coated with oligonucleotides (strands of DNA), to optically detect the specific messenger RNA (mRNA) signatures of skeletal stem cells in bone marrow. When detection takes place, the nanoparticles release a fluorescent dye, making the stem cells distinguishable from other surrounding cells, under microscopic observation. The stem cells can then be separated using a sophisticated fluorescence cell sorting process. Eureka Alert

Chris Price