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Artificial intelligence–enabled electrocardiograms for identification of patients with low ejection fraction: a pragmatic, randomized clinical trial

, David R. Rushlow, Jonathan W. Inselman, Rozalina G. McCoy, , Emma M. Behnken, Matthew E. Bernard, Steven L. Rosas, Abdulla Akfaly, Artika Misra,
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Published: 6 May 2021
Nature Medicine , Volume 27, pp 815-819; doi:10.1038/s41591-021-01335-4

Abstract: We have conducted a pragmatic clinical trial aimed to assess whether an electrocardiogram (ECG)-based, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered clinical decision support tool enables early diagnosis of low ejection fraction (EF), a condition that is underdiagnosed but treatable. In this trial ( NCT04000087 ), 120 primary care teams from 45 clinics or hospitals were cluster-randomized to either the intervention arm (access to AI results; 181 clinicians) or the control arm (usual care; 177 clinicians). ECGs were obtained as part of routine care from a total of 22,641 adults (N = 11,573 intervention; N = 11,068 control) without prior heart failure. The primary outcome was a new diagnosis of low EF (≤50%) within 90 days of the ECG. The trial met the prespecified primary endpoint, demonstrating that the intervention increased the diagnosis of low EF in the overall cohort (1.6% in the control arm versus 2.1% in the intervention arm, odds ratio (OR) 1.32 (1.01–1.61), P = 0.007) and among those who were identified as having a high likelihood of low EF (that is, positive AI-ECG, 6% of the overall cohort) (14.5% in the control arm versus 19.5% in the intervention arm, OR 1.43 (1.08–1.91), P = 0.01). In the overall cohort, echocardiogram utilization was similar between the two arms (18.2% control versus 19.2% intervention, P = 0.17); for patients with positive AI-ECGs, more echocardiograms were obtained in the intervention compared to the control arm (38.1% control versus 49.6% intervention, P < 0.001). These results indicate that use of an AI algorithm based on ECGs can enable the early diagnosis of low EF in patients in the setting of routine primary care. In a pragmatic, cluster-randomized clinical trial, use of an AI algorithm for interpretation of electrocardiograms in primary care practices increased the frequency at which impaired heart function was diagnosed.
Keywords: ECG / early diagnosis of low / enables early / enable the early diagnosis / cluster randomized / pragmatic / function

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