Low ejection fraction refers to the amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle with each heartbeat. Ejection fraction matters, according to the American Heart Association, because scoring lower than 50% can be an indicator of developing heart failure or cardiomyopathy. Traditional ejection fraction screening relies on echocardiography imaging that is expensive and time-consuming. The CDC’s latest report states that heart failure was a contributing cause in one in nine deaths. About 5.7 million U.S. adults currently have heart failure. We’ve written before about technology that predicts heart disease and other developments that send alerts to heart patients at risk.

Mayo Clinic and Eko recently announced a collaboration to help physicians screen for low ejection fraction using a low-cost handheld device and a machine-learning algorithm. Eko and Mayo Clinic are co-developing an algorithm that physicians can use with a digital stethoscope to screen for low ejection fraction and, by extension, for heart failure. Eko’s Duo digital stethoscope incorporates a one-lead EKG. This non-invasive handheld tool can be used by any health care provider and even patients at home (with a prescription). Used with the Eko app, the Duo displays real-time EKG and heart sound tracings on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device. The app can also live stream HIPAA-compliant shared data for remote monitoring and telemedicine. The Mayo Clinic brings expertise in medical AI and heart disease screening to the joint effort, using its cardiovascular database of millions of EKGs and healthcare screenings to train the machine learning algorithm.

After completing clinical studies with Mayo Clinic to show the safety and effectiveness of the algorithm for in-clinic screening, Eko hopes to gain FDA approval. The further goal is to empower physicians and healthcare workers ranging from high school nurses to surgeons with the inexpensive, noninvasive, and potentially lifesaving technology.