A groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) tool has been developed to assess the impact of lifestyle choices on the aging of the heart. The aim is to identify ways to reverse heart aging, ultimately reducing the risks of age-related conditions such as stroke and heart disease. Led by Professor Declan O’Regan of the Medical Research Council’s London Institute of Medical Sciences, a team of researchers developed this innovative system.
Traditional methods of measuring heart health, such as scans, electrocardiograms, and blood pressure readings, offer only a snapshot of an individual’s current state and can fluctuate from day to day. In contrast, the AI analysis provides a comprehensive picture of the cumulative effects of lifestyle choices on the heart’s aging process.
The AI tool analyzes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the heart after exercise to detect subtle signs of premature aging that even experienced cardiologists may miss. By comparing the 3D motion of the MRI scan with the scans of over 40,000 individuals of varying heart health, the system identifies tiny details indicative of premature aging. This data is then compared to the scans of 5,000 individuals who have maintained healthy lifestyles at various ages.
The powerful AI algorithm calculates an individual’s “heart age” based on the accumulated impacts of factors such as drinking, smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise. The tool provides personalized insights into how an individual’s heart has aged prematurely and examines the potential reversibility of the aging process.
Prof. O’Regan emphasizes the importance of understanding the role of genes in premature heart aging. Initial analysis indicates that genes associated with muscle elasticity, immune system function, and electrical signaling through the heart play significant roles. Armed with this knowledge, researchers envision the development of targeted treatments to slow or reverse the aging process, ultimately enabling individuals to enjoy longer, healthier lives.
In the next phase of his research, Prof. O’Regan hopes to investigate whether lifestyle changes can counteract premature heart aging. By exploring the influence of genetics versus lifestyle on heart health, researchers strive to unlock the potential for individuals to rejuvenate their hearts through personalized treatment approaches.
Q: How does the AI tool assess heart age?
A: The AI tool analyzes MRI scans of the heart after exercise and compares them to a database of scans from individuals with various heart health conditions. It identifies subtle signs of premature aging that may be missed by traditional methods.
Q: What factors contribute to premature heart aging?
A: Lifestyle choices such as drinking, smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise can contribute to premature heart aging. Genetic factors associated with muscle elasticity, immune system function, and electrical signaling in the heart can also play a role.
Q: Can lifestyle changes reverse premature heart aging?
A: The potential reversibility of premature heart aging through lifestyle changes is currently being investigated. Researchers aim to determine the impact of lifestyle modifications on heart health and the possibility of rejuvenating the heart.
– [Medical Research Council](https://www.mrc.ac.uk/)
– [Nature Communications](https://www.nature.com/ncomms/)