New AI software can detect heart disease and breast cancer in women

Many people believe that breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women -- but is that completely true?

The statistics would tell you it's not

Studies show an increase in cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in women over breast cancer

More women die of cardiovascular disease than all cancers combined. 1 in 5 women dies from a heart attack, which is 5 times greater than the rate of deaths attributed to breast cancer. Additionally, 65% of women who die from heart attacks are asymptomatic.

Looking at those numbers, it seems like the healthcare industry should consider making a larger push in awareness of women's heart health. But what if we could take care of breast health and heart health at the same time? After all, according to the CDC, there are over 40 million mammograms performed annually in the U.S.

Mammograms can help us discover a patient's chances of future heart disease

Recent studies show that mammograms might be the best place to start for identifying indicators of heart disease. A study in the April issue of JACC: Cardiology Imaging involved nearly 300 women free of heart disease. All underwent both a mammogram and a computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest. These were the results:

  • The mammograms showed calcifications in the arteries within the breast in just over 40% of the women who took part in the study. These artery calcifications should not be mistaken for irregular calcification spots indicating the early stage of cancer.

  • The amount of calcium buildup in the women's coronary arteries, as measured by CT scans, was found to be strongly linked to calcifications in the breast arteries.

  • CAC, or coronary artery calcification, is a precursor to heart disease.

Heart disease common symptoms

Although some women may not have any symptoms of heart disease, others may feel the following symptoms:

  • Angina (dull and heavy or sharp chest pain or discomfort)

  • Pain in the neck, jaw, or throat

  • Pain in the upper abdomen or back

There is no specific time when these symptoms can occur; they can occur while exercising or resting. Other symptoms that may occur are:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

cmAngio can detect cardiovascular disease and breast cancer at the same time

According to a small study, mammograms, which are widely used to detect early breast cancer, may also be an effective tool for detecting early signs of heart disease.  Given the rates of heart disease in women, Dr. Heather Johnson, a cardiologist, recommends a cardiovascular evaluation based on the arterial calcification findings of the mammography. CmAngio is an artificial intelligence-based triage software in development, that does just that by helping doctors assess a patient's risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

cmAngio produces a CureMetrix Bradley Score based on the characteristics of breast arterial calcifications in the mammogram.

This score can then be used by doctors to determine a patient's risk of coronary heart disease based on their mammogram alone. The goal is to use AI to quantify vascular calcification to improve cardiovascular and breast health.

At Novarad, we’re committed to helping your radiology practice by offering a range of healthcare solutions so that you can increase value, work smarter, not harder, to deliver optimal care and outcomes, including advanced mammography and cardiology tools.

If you'd like to learn more about either NovaMG PRO, which features cmAngio, or NovaCardio, feel free to contact us today to find out more about how we can help improve your workflows!