Screening for peripartum cardiomyopathies using artificial intelligence in Nigeria (SPEC-AI Nigeria): Clinical trial rationale and design

Am Heart J. 2023 Jul:261:64-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2023.03.008. Epub 2023 Mar 25.


Background: Artificial intelligence (AI), and more specifically deep learning, models have demonstrated the potential to augment physician diagnostic capabilities and improve cardiovascular health if incorporated into routine clinical practice. However, many of these tools are yet to be evaluated prospectively in the setting of a rigorous clinical trial-a critical step prior to implementing broadly in routine clinical practice.

Objectives: To describe the rationale and design of a proposed clinical trial aimed at evaluating an AI-enabled electrocardiogram (AI-ECG) for cardiomyopathy detection in an obstetric population in Nigeria.

Design: The protocol will enroll 1,000 pregnant and postpartum women who reside in Nigeria in a prospective randomized clinical trial. Nigeria has the highest reported incidence of peripartum cardiomyopathy worldwide. Women aged 18 and older, seen for routine obstetric care at 6 sites (2 Northern and 4 Southern) in Nigeria will be included. Participants will be randomized to the study intervention or control arm in a 1:1 fashion. This study aims to enroll participants representative of the general obstetric population at each site. The primary outcome is a new diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, defined as left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) < 50% during pregnancy or within 12 months postpartum. Secondary outcomes will include the detection of impaired left ventricular function (at different LVEF cut-offs), and exploratory outcomes will include the effectiveness of AI-ECG tools for cardiomyopathy detection, new diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, and the development of composite adverse maternal cardiovascular outcomes.

Summary: This clinical trial focuses on the emerging field of cardio-obstetrics and will serve as foundational data for the use of AI-ECG tools in an obstetric population in Nigeria. This study will gather essential data regarding the utility of the AI-ECG for cardiomyopathy detection in a predominantly Black population of women and pave the way for clinical implementation of these models in routine practice.

Trial registration: NCT05438576.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Cardiomyopathies; Clinical trial; Electrocardiogram; Heart Failure; Nigeria; Peripartum Period; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cardiomyopathies* / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies* / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Peripartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puerperal Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Puerperal Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left

Associated data