Artificial intelligence tool to transform coronary artery disease care

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease, impacting  2.6 million Canadians.

Cholesterol deposits and inflammation are almost always the cause of the arteries in the heart to narrow, restricting blood, oxygen and nutrient supply to the heart. If untreated, CAD can lead to a heart attack. 

Treatments for CAD include medications; percutaneous coronary intervention, which involves opening blocked arteries using a small stent inserted with a catheter; and coronary artery bypass surgery, which diverts the blood flow around the blocked artery. 

Choosing the right treatment isn’t always straightforward, as each patient’s unique characteristics impact the choice. 

Dr. Joon Lee, PhD, a digital health researcher and innovator, is developing an artificial intelligence-based clinical decision support tool that will help patients and their doctors make the best decision possible, based on the individual patient’s unique situation and needs. 

"We have developed and validated artificial intelligence models that can assess a patient’s risk of major adverse cardiovascular events conditioned on the three treatment options," says Lee. "We are now working to bring the AI to the point of care as a medical device to help inform decision-making." 

The AI technology, named Revaz AI,  will interface with Connect Care, Alberta’s digital health record system, where it will tap into and use de-identified angiography results, demographic data, patient history and other information.  Earning patients and clinicians’ trust in the technology via responsible and ethical AI practices will be a key focus.

Lee co-founded a company, Symbiotic AI, to commercialize the technology. The company recently received nearly $800,000 from the Alberta Innovates AI for Better Health program to support the project for the next three years.

Lee is excited about the next stage of development. In addition to integrating Revaz AI with Connect Care, Lee’s team will research and develop a user experience and interface to be used in the clinic and work on commercialization of the technology.

"This is all’about bringing AI to the point of care so it can actually benefit patients and clinicians in the real world," he says. "Our overarching goal is to implement this AI technology into clinical departments where it can make a difference in the lives of patients." 

Dr. James White, MD, PhD, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute’s Precision Medicine Initiative, says Lee’s work has the potential to improve care delivery for patients with CAD.

"We leave so much information on the floor when making important decisions for these patients," he says. "By meaningfully considering all the available data, Dr. Lee’s technology aims to offer recommendations tailored to each patient."

Lee is quick to point out that the project wouldn’t be possible without his team. 

"I  rely on my team to take care of the areas I don’t know much about," he says. "This new grant will take us beyond academic research to the place where the rubber meets the road."

Lee says he expects Revaz AI to be ready for a randomized controlled trial following the three-year grant term.