Sarawak’s groundbreaking Heart2Miss programme leverages AI for early heart failure detection

Dr Sim (second left) launches the Heart2Miss programme held at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) in Kuching on June 14, 2024. Also seen from left are Vinod, Dr Ngian, Dr Foo, and Dr Fong.

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, June 14: Sarawak Minister for Public Health, Housing, and Local Government (MPHLG), Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian, has emphasised the significant advancements in diagnosing heart failure brought about by the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.

Speaking to reporters after launching the Heart2Miss programme held today at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here, Dr Sim, who is also the Deputy Premier of Sarawak, noted that AI has greatly expedited and streamlined the diagnostic process, allowing for quicker and more accurate detection of heart failure.


As per a press handout, AstraZeneca, together with SGH, announced a new collaboration to roll out Heart2Miss, a pilot study aimed at addressing the challenges of heart failure diagnosis and transforming care for Type-2 diabetic patients with heart failure.

“The study aspires to improve the patient pathway for the early detection of heart failure by shifting the diagnosis to community settings to identify more patients in the early stages and help prevent irreversible heart damage.

“This pioneering, innovative approach will also foster the integration of advanced AI-powered point-of-care ultrasound (AI-POCUS) into echocardiogram screening for improved diagnosis of heart failure in high-risk diabetic individuals,” the handout stated.

Dr Sim also mentioned that patients can now be diagnosed at regular health clinics thanks to AstraZeneca and SGH’s collaboration on the Heart2Miss programme.

“In the past, we had to train people for a long time to perform a heart ultrasound, but now, with AI, the diagnosis can be completed in just four weeks. They can also do it at the clinic,” he said.

The minister also praised the innovative pilot initiative, which was the first in Malaysia to see Sarawak form a partnership with the giant pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

“Sarawak is not only doing well but is also taking the lead. So we are very grateful for all of these big drug companies coming to Sarawak for research and collaboration on initiatives like this because it shows how good our local talents are,” he added.

The handout further explained that the pilot study utilises innovative screening and detection methods, employing handheld AI-POCUS devices operated by novices to aid in the detection of heart failure through advanced image analysis and interpretation.

“The AI algorithms integrated into these systems can assist in identifying specific cardiac abnormalities associated with heart failure, such as impaired ventricular function, increased chamber dimensions, and abnormal blood flow patterns.”

Also present at the event were Vinod Narayanan, Country President, AstraZeneca Malaysia; Dr Ngian Hie Ung, Hospital Director of SGH; Dr Alan Fong, Head of Clinical Research Centre SGH; and Dr Diana Foo, Principal Investigator of Heart2Miss from the Clinical Research Centre SGH. — DayakDaily