An artificial intelligence-enabled ECG algorithm for the identification of patients with atrial fibrillation during sinus rhythm: a retrospective analysis of outcome prediction

Lancet. 2019 Sep 7;394(10201):861-867. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)31721-0. Epub 2019 Aug 1.


Background: Atrial fibrillation is frequently asymptomatic and thus underdetected but is associated with stroke, heart failure, and death. Existing screening methods require prolonged monitoring and are limited by cost and low yield. We aimed to develop a rapid, inexpensive, point-of-care means of identifying patients with atrial fibrillation using machine learning.

Methods: We developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled electrocardiograph (ECG) using a convolutional neural network to detect the electrocardiographic signature of atrial fibrillation present during normal sinus rhythm using standard 10-second, 12-lead ECGs. We included all patients aged 18 years or older with at least one digital, normal sinus rhythm, standard 10-second, 12-lead ECG acquired in the supine position at the Mayo Clinic ECG laboratory between Dec 31, 1993, and July 21, 2017, with rhythm labels validated by trained personnel under cardiologist supervision. We classified patients with at least one ECG with a rhythm of atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter as positive for atrial fibrillation. We allocated ECGs to the training, internal validation, and testing datasets in a 7:1:2 ratio. We calculated the area under the curve (AUC) of the receiver operatoring characteristic curve for the internal validation dataset to select a probability threshold, which we applied to the testing dataset. We evaluated model performance on the testing dataset by calculating the AUC and the accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and F1 score with two-sided 95% CIs.

Findings: We included 180 922 patients with 649 931 normal sinus rhythm ECGs for analysis: 454 789 ECGs recorded from 126 526 patients in the training dataset, 64 340 ECGs from 18 116 patients in the internal validation dataset, and 130 802 ECGs from 36 280 patients in the testing dataset. 3051 (8·4%) patients in the testing dataset had verified atrial fibrillation before the normal sinus rhythm ECG tested by the model. A single AI-enabled ECG identified atrial fibrillation with an AUC of 0·87 (95% CI 0·86-0·88), sensitivity of 79·0% (77·5-80·4), specificity of 79·5% (79·0-79·9), F1 score of 39·2% (38·1-40·3), and overall accuracy of 79·4% (79·0-79·9). Including all ECGs acquired during the first month of each patient's window of interest (ie, the study start date or 31 days before the first recorded atrial fibrillation ECG) increased the AUC to 0·90 (0·90-0·91), sensitivity to 82·3% (80·9-83·6), specificity to 83·4% (83·0-83·8), F1 score to 45·4% (44·2-46·5), and overall accuracy to 83·3% (83·0-83·7).

Interpretation: An AI-enabled ECG acquired during normal sinus rhythm permits identification at point of care of individuals with atrial fibrillation.

Funding: None.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis*
  • Atrial Flutter / diagnosis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electrocardiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies