World Heart Day 2022: How health technology tools help control cardio-metabolic diseases

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Keeping the heart safe. Image courtesy Georgia Tech

India is predisposed to cardiac-related diseases. With being the most leading cause of death globally, cardiovascular disease (CVD) has killed about 17.8 million patients in India, which represents 32 per cent of the global disease burden. CVD also accounts for a group of ailments that often occur together, have a common origin, and exaggerate each other severely on coexistence – this condition is called cardio-metabolic diseases. It is associated with heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and hypertension.

Currently, the incidence of cardio-metabolic is on the rise, and it is estimated that at least one of them will be experienced in their lifetimes. However, it is crucial to understand that some cardio-metabolic diseases are entirely preventable and are born out of unhealthy lifestyles and behavioral patterns and habits. They take a heavy toll on health and well-being. They do not exist solo but rather present in different combinations, complexities, and acuity levels specific to each person. If left untreated, they lead to grave outcomes, sometimes fatal.

A scientific thought states that cardio-metabolic diseases are chronic progressive disorders with little chance of remission. Even though the application of AI-driven technology in healthcare has made the remission of Diabetes Mellitus possible, this treatment approach still receives scepticism from medical experts and patients.

Diabetes and hypertension are expected to become significant healthcare challenges in the coming years despite all the research and novel therapies dedicated to them. Their growing incidence is expected to grow many folds shortly.  Thus, the status quo has not worked. Traditional treatments tend to reduce symptoms instead of the underlying cause. The scientific communities need to move from disease management to a new standard of precise, personalised care focused on reversing the disease process and promoting healing. Do we have any out-of-the-box approach to contain this metabolic disease giant?

A patient with these metabolic disorders has not only high morbidity and mortality but are also financially burdened due to lifelong treatment plans. These lifestyle diseases are financial burdens for individuals, communities, corporates, and employers. With the present norms of insurance coverage for all employees, individuals with chronic metabolic conditions are the most expensive.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most costly diseases to be insured for.  Studies have shown that 80 per cent of deaths due to cardio-metabolic disorders happen in poor and middle-income countries.  This is worrisome and tragic considering that many of these developing countries would need to spend billions of rupees on these diseases that were actually easily preventable and lifestyle modification is their key treatment management strategy.

Now the big question here is, Is Artificial intelligence the answer?

With the development and advancement of AI technology in recent years, it has gradually changed from theory to practicality. The multiple applications of AI in medicine are being proven. Additionally, AI technology has become an essential factor that may boost the development of the medical industry and may improve the level of medical services. AI can help clinicians diagnose diseases and optimise treatment processes.

After being applied to traditional medical procedures, AI can reduce the rate of misdiagnosis and improve diagnostic efficiency. AI also can recognise medical images and provide clinicians with more reliable imaging diagnostic information. Lastly, by using big data analysis AI algorithms can often provide more accurate results for patient prognosis and disease prediction.

The latest development in health monitoring technology now allows the user to create dynamic digital replicas of any individual patient’s metabolism based on thousands of digital data points collected from sources that include non-invasive sensors and patients’ self-reported preferences. With the help of AI-dependent individualized, precise, and personalised information is generated across nutrition, sleep, activity, and breathing processes.

A digital replica of individual metabolism is created, and apart from the precision, prediction is possible of future events due to the disease process. This will help in taking corrective steps to avoid the impending crisis.

Sticking to the theory, the practical results of using AI-driven technology in the disease management process can lead to weight loss, diabetes remission, and reversal of toxic metabolic state.  AI is a trend, and this will play a key role in managing chronic cardio-metabolic disorders. Perhaps these disorders would be as curable as infections in the near future.

The author is a cardiologist at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, Punjab. Views are personal.

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