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The platform uses AI and machine learning to identify risk factors for heart attacks
Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco interview Jim Min, founder and CEO of Cleerly, a company that uses artificial intelligence to identify the features of plaques that may cause heart attacks. The platform includes a data visualization platform to improve the understanding of heart disease, patient-facing educational solutions, and automated data curation. It's also able to deliver coronary results in as quickly as one hour.
Cleerly was founded in 2017, and has raised $54 million in funding, including a $43 million round in June, with investors that include Vensana Capital, LRVHealth, New Leaf Venture Partners, DigiTx Partners, the American College of Cardiology, and Cigna Ventures.
For these digital health podcasts, our goal is to also understand these three high-level questions: How are we empowering the consumer? Are we creating productivity that also allows us to see overall economic costs go down? How is this advancement changing the role of the doctor?
Highlights from the interview:
- Min spent 15 years working at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he worked on three things which became the foundation for Cleerly: a cardiovascular disease prevention program; computer vision and imaging processing; and clinical trials to understand how the disease phenotype affects the outcome of the patient.
- Cleerly uses a coronary CT angiogram, which is the only non-invasive tool that allows for whole heart characterization and quantification of all the different types of plaque buildup. The company takes the angiogram and extracts the CT into the cloud, using machine learning algorithms to analyze the image in only a few minutes.
- Even clinicians who don't have background in imaging can really ingest Cleery's data. The company visualizes it in a way that's actionable to them, so that it can help support them in their better treatment and diagnosis of their patients.
- There are 40% more deaths from cardiovascular disease then all cancers combined, and there were two times more cardiovascular deaths last year than deaths from COVID-19. One individual dies of cardiovascular disease globally every 1.7 seconds. This is partially because people are only evaluated when they've had symptoms, such as chest pain, which is a late stage of the disease.
- Five years ago, there were only two or three medications that could treat people to prevent atherosclerosis from progressing and causing heart attacks; in the last four years, the FDA has approved more than 20 different medications that can prevent coronary heart disease. The problem is no longer treatment, it's that people aren't easily identified. To make the biggest dent, you have to pinpoint individuals who have disease and get them on the proper treatment early before catastrophic events occur.
- Once you form plaque, it's hard to get it to go away. Medications, a healthy diet, and exercise take plaques and transforms it to reduce risk. Cleerly's technology allows for the quantification and characterization of those phenotypes so they can be used as an integrated individual metric. That allows physicians to take a patient's risk factors and determine if they're growing more plaque.
- In the clinical trials that Cleerly had run before starting the company, it found that the lower density, darker, non-calcified plaques that caused a higher risk of heart attacks. The darker the plaques, and the more non-calcified that they were, the more dangerous they are. As they become lighter over time, and more calcified, those plaques are associated with a lower risk of future heart attacks. That gives doctors a single metric that they can follow to track therapy success.
- Cleerly has been teaming up with hospitals and integrated healthcare delivery networks to identify very high risk patients that have been overlooked. There are hundreds of clinical conditions out there that have been proven to increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks, but those people are not seen on a daily basis, and they aren't considered in the cardiology risk calculator. Cleerly teams with its hospital partners to find these individuals, evaluate them, and get them early preventive care.
- Cleerly has eight large scale multicenter clinical trials that are ongoing, with a number of them around diagnostic accuracy of its solution and how good it is. The company finished half of those out diagnostic performance studies and the Cleerly platform was over 99% accurate.
This podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp and VatorNews listeners get 10% off their first month at BetterHelp.com/Vator. This podcast is also brought by Octave, your partner for mental health and emotional well-being. Learn more at FindOctave.com. Also thanks to NeuroFlow, which is working with hundreds of healthcare organizations to provide best-in-class technology and services for the effective integration of behavioral health.
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