Heart Health Awareness Month: New study says eye exams could save lives

The study claims that data from eye exams could say if someone is at risk of having a heart attack as soon as within the next year–just by looking at those blood vessels in the back of the eye.

News 12 Staff

Feb 21, 2022, 11:05 PM

Updated 823 days ago

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February is Heart Health Awareness Month, and a new study shows what could be a game changer in the fight against the leading cause of death in adults, according to an expert. 
Ophthalmologist Dr. Jeffrey Dello Russo says he sees potential in a new study published in “Nature Machine Intelligence.” 
The study claims that data from eye exams could say if someone is at risk of having a heart attack as soon as within the next year–just by looking at those blood vessels in the back of the eye. 
“The beauty of the eye is it's the one place in the body where we can actually take a look and directly visualize blood vessels and that can tell a lot about peoples' health, and those blood vessels are very similar to the blood vessels in the microvasculature of the heart, so it's almost a one-to-one,” said Dr. Jeffrey Dello Russo.
One of the biggest developments could be replacing some of the expensive and inconvenient heart tests needed now with basic and simple ones a lot of us already get at our normal eye exam.
“One in three of heart attacks can be fatal, so any early detection that can lead to some prevention or some mitigating factors, it's an exciting game-changer in terms of early diagnosis of cardiac disease and altering the outcome,” said Dr. Jeffrey Dello Russo. 
The tools to run that data aren’t widely available yet. 
Dr. Dello Russo says they still need to be developed more and that we’re at least a few years away from a major rollout.


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