University of Girona improves the detection of cardiovascular risk by using eyes blood vessels images

The UdG research group GRECS, the Institute for Health Assistance, the University of La Coruña, the University of Santiago de Compostela and the Conxo Hospital developed a new technique that may be introduced in health care centers in the future.

A study by the research group on Statistics, Applied Economics and Health (GRECS, from its acronym in Catalan) developed a system that allows reading the bottom of the eye images. This will help to get better prognosis of cardiovascular risk in patients.

This research has been developed together with the Institute for Health Assistance, the research group on Artificial Vision and Pattern Recognition (VARPA) at the University of La Coruña, the University of Santiago de Compostela and the Conxo Hospital, also in Santiago.

Using images captured by a digital camera that prevents pupils to dilate, they can see the real state of small blood vessels in the retina, which are identical to those in the brain. This way, they can accurately predict the probability that a person might suffer a stroke. Also, it is possible to know the stroke’s evolution afterwards, as the program detects changes in six months. The system, validated and published, analyzes and processes images giving results that provide the vision and the detection of changes in the retina small blood vessels.

A painless examination
Reading the back of the eye (retinography) is a test that takes about five minutes. It is painless and it can be carried out by technicians at health centers. The back of the eye is the analyzed area. The point is to introduce this new application in retinographies so, in a single scan, they can obtain valuable information about damages in the retina as well as in the brain arteries. Then, from the results, they can decide which treatment to follow.

This technique will be displayed at health care centers in the area of Girona if the tests carried out in two groups of patients with cardiovascular risk –700 hypertensive and 3,000 diabetics– are positive.

This research study, named Pirene, has been funded with € 200,000 that come from an ETES-FISS grant, a grant from the Ministry of Research and Universities Spanish government, and another grant from the Catalan Technological Assessment and Medical Research Agency.

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