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Digital stethoscope uses artificial intelligence to help doctors detect heart valve problems

New stethoscope uses AI to help doctors find heart valve problems
New stethoscope uses AI to help doctors find heart valve problems 01:51

LAWRENCE - There is encouraging news about the role of artificial intelligence in health care.

A new, digital stethoscope uses AI to help doctors detect heart valve problems.

Heart murmurs

Normally, blood flows from one heart chamber to another, passing through little doors called valves that open and close. But, if there is a problem with one of the valves, blood flow becomes turbulent, causing a whooshing or raspy sound called a murmur.

Only about 40-percent of murmurs can be detected during a physical exam by a clinician with a regular stethoscope. But this new stethoscope, developed by EKO Health, and the new technology with it are changing that.

How it works

The AI-enhanced stethoscope transmits sounds from the patient's heart to an iPad or smartphone.

"The AI analyzes the sounds and it tells you if there are any murmurs or not," said Dr. Moshe Rancier, the medical director of Mass General Brigham Community Physicians.

EKO Health's digital stethoscope uses artificial intelligence. EKO Health

An ongoing study involving more than 350 patients over the age of 50 with risk factors for heart disease finds when it comes to detecting murmurs, this new stethoscope is twice as effective as a standard one.

Early detection

"I'm excited because this study demonstrated that using this an AI-enhanced stethoscope will lead to early detection of valvular heart disease and eventually improving outcomes in our patients," said Dr. Rancier.

While the technology is promising, Dr. Rancier said it's not a substitute for a clinician's physical exam. 

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