Using AI Mammograms to Detect Heart Disease – A Breakthrough in Preventive Medicine for Women

Posted by Dawn Anderson, SVP Marketing on Feb 1, 2021 10:36:15 AM
Dawn Anderson, SVP Marketing
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Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. One in three women will die from heart disease alone, according to the American Heart Association—five times the rate of death from breast cancer.

Heart disease increases a person’s risk for certain types of cancers, and leaves them more vulnerable to developing complications from COVID-19 and other viruses. It’s also nearly impossible to detect these issues without advance screening, since 65 percent of women who die of heart disease are asymptomatic, showing no physical signs of ill health.

Thankfully, the CDC recently released data indicating that 80-90 percent of all heart attacks and strokes can be prevented when patients are referred to a cardiologist early, so they can begin treatment and lifestyle changes. As part of American Heart Month, which aims to raise awareness and motivate Americans to adopt healthier habits and prevent cardiovascular disease, we want to highlight how AI in development at CureMetrix can help identify coronary heart disease risk earlier—and why these emerging technologies should be included with the 40 million routine mammograms conducted in the U.S. each year.

Working Together with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Arterial calcifications, or areas of hardened arteries that indicate a range of conditions, are visible in mammograms. However, they’re not always immediately obvious to a radiologist, especially if factors like variations in breast density affect their readings. Even if they are visible, assessing Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.29.15 AMquantifiable risk based on the arterial calcifications is extremely difficult and typically requires additional imaging.  This is where AI-based CAD programs like CureMetrix’s cmAngio have the potential to be a huge help to imaging centers. pexels-puwadon-sangngern-5340280

cmAngio is intended to help radiologists and other care teams by automatically detecting and scoring subtle anomalies that indicate risk for coronary heart disease. It can be used alone or in conjunction with AI-based software like cmTriage and cmAssist®. After reading an individual patient’s scan, cmAngio produces a proprietary Bradley Score™ that is intended to be an indication of their risk for cardiovascular issues based on the characteristics of any arterial calcifications present. A radiologist can look at this score, recommend a follow-up plan if needed, and then refer the patient to a cardiologist for further examination, preventative care and targeted medical therapies. The Bradley Score can be tracked over time to help both patients and their doctors, including a referred cardiologist, understand their changing health profile.

This “two at once” strategy of screening for both breast cancer and heart disease at the same time has the potential to lead to better and earlier detection, more lives saved, and increased patient satisfaction. Further, this may reduce the need for additional tests, imaging, and thus radiation exposure. “By empowering mammography to identify both heart and breast disease, this may be one of the most important breakthroughs in preventive medicine for women in a very long time,” stated Dr. Matt Budoff, Program Director and Director of Cardiac CT at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

As a clinical support tool, AI solutions like cmAngio could make the process of screening for heart disease more efficient and help identify women with high heart disease risk who may have otherwise gone undiagnosed. 

It also makes financial sense to catch heart disease at the beginning. Using cmAngio’s scoring information, women can start to take preventative steps to manage their heart health earlier, potentially reducing the need for pharmacological or surgical intervention—which ultimately saves hospital systems billions of dollars in healthcare costs, according to the CDC.  

Far too many people die of coronary heart disease each year, but we can help more women live longer, healthier lives by identifying their risk earlier. Preventing and managing heart disease requires a lot of coordination between patients and their doctors, and between doctors and a patient’s larger care team. AI can streamline this process. cmAngio and other AI tools are intended to build heart disease screening right into routine mammograms—another essential element of women’s healthcare—to get women on the right track to heart health that much sooner.

To request more information about cmAngio and learn how it can help flag heart risk earlier using existing mammography tools, visit

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

American Heart Association

FDA/MQSA National Statistics

American Heart/Stroke Association

CDC (Chronic Diseases)

Topics: radiology, AI, breast cancer, mammogram, cmTriage, artificial intelligence, mammography, screening, CAD, AI-CAD, Machine Learning, breast cancer awareness, RSNA, AI Mammogram