There is something called abdominal aortic calcification (AAC), which is a buildup of calcium in the walls of the abdominal aorta.
The abdominal aorta is a big blood vessel in your belly.
This buildup of calcium can predict your risk of getting heart disease, having a stroke, or even getting dementia when you get older. It can also tell you if you are at risk of having falls or fractures.
The good news is that we can see AAC using a bone density machine, the same machine used to find out if someone has weak bones or osteoporosis.
But, the process of looking at the images taken by the machine takes a lot of time, around five to fifteen minutes per image. And, it needs experts who know what to look for.
A New Solution: A Super-Fast Software
A group of researchers from Edith Cowan University in Australia, including Joshua Lewis, who is an Associate Professor and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow, developed software that can analyze these images much faster.
How much faster? Well, it can look at about 60,000 images in a day.
This new software is a game changer. It will make it easier to use AAC in research and in helping people avoid getting health problems as they get older.
The software can analyze images quickly and easily when a person is having a bone density test. This could lead to new ways to detect heart disease early and monitor the disease in regular medical practice.
A Successful Collaboration and Testing
The work was done in collaboration with several other universities and research institutes from around the world.
They developed the software and tested it in real-world settings, using images taken as part of routine bone density testing. They analyzed more than 5,000 images, both with the software and with human experts.
When they compared the results from the software and the human experts, they found that the software came to the same conclusion about the extent of AAC 80% of the time.
This was a very good result, especially considering this was the first version of the software.
Looking Forward: Improved Healthcare and Better Lives
The software made very few mistakes in cases where people had high levels of AAC. These are the people who are most at risk of having serious health problems like heart disease or stroke, so it’s important to get it right.
The researchers are now working on improving the accuracy of the software even more. They hope to use the software for large-scale screening for heart disease and other conditions before someone has any symptoms.
This could help people who are at risk make the lifestyle changes they need to stay healthier in their later years.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that blueberry supplements may prevent cognitive decline, and results showing higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.
The study was published in eBioMedicine.
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