CLEVELAND, Ohio — More than half of Americans would accept heart health advice from technology that uses artificial intelligence. And while most Americans would believe health advice given by a computer chatbot, they would check with their doctor before acting on that advice.
Those are some findings from the Cleveland Clinic’s 2024 Heart Health Survey, released Thursday to coincide with the start of American Heart Month.
The National Institutes of Health has designated February as American Heart Month, a time for Americans to learn how to prevent cardiovascular disease and commit to heart-healthy lifestyles.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 700,000 Americans died from heart disease in 2021.
This year, the Clinic’s annual Heart Health survey focused on how Americans are using artificial intelligence and health monitoring technology to improve their heart health.
“AI in medicine has been around for a while on the research side of things, but it’s captured the public imagination only very recently,” said Clinic cardiologist Dr. Ashish Sarraju.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to take over basic tasks, allowing the doctor-patient relationship to deepen and to focus on more complex issues, Sarraju said.
“That philosophy of using artificial intelligence to inform and strengthen the relationship with the doctor, but not to replace it, is very interesting,” Sarraju said.
Listen to chatbot, but check with doctor
Here are a few highlights from the Clinic survey:
- About 60% of Americans think that artificial intelligence will lead to better heart healthcare.
- While 72% believe the health advice from a computer chatbot is accurate, nearly 90% of respondents would still get a physician’s advice before acting on the chatbot’s information.
- About 65% of respondents said they would accept heart health advice from technology that uses artificial intelligence.
- Just under 25% of Americans have asked for health advice from a computer chatbot or other form of artificial intelligence technology.
- About 50% of Americans use at least one type of health monitoring technology for tasks such as counting their daily steps (60%), monitoring heart rate or pulse (53%), monitoring sleep (33%), tracking blood pressure (32%) and tracking calories burned (40%).
- Many said health technology encouraged them to exercise more regularly (53%), get more steps during the day (50%) and eat better (34%), according to the survey.
These results came from an online survey conducted among a national sample consisting of 1,000 Americans, 18 years and older, the Clinic said. Respondents were nationally representative regarding age, gender, region, education, household income, race/ethnicity and urban/rural residency.
Burden of heart disease persists
American Heart Month highlights the prevalence of heart disease and the health burden it causes in this country.
The cost of health care, drugs and lost productivity due to death adds up to about $239.9 billion annually, the CDC said.
The country has seen progress in decreasing heart disease risk factors such as smoking, but lost ground in others, such and diabetes and obesity, Sarraju said.
Diets high in processed food can lead to obesity and metabolic health issues, he said. In some neighborhoods, it’s easier and less expensive to buy processed or ultra-processed foods than fresh vegetables.
The new weight loss drugs are often prescribed to help patients with diabetes. Sarraju is optimistic that this class of drugs could have a positive effect on heart disease if they become more widespread.
“Data shows that folks who control all of their risk factors do better than folks who have trouble controlling their risk factors,” he said. “What we really should be aiming for is to try to figure out how to promote optimal cardiovascular health across all the different parameters.”
Regular exercise, check your personal risk factors for heart disease — such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and blood sugar — and learn more about how to maintain heart health from trustworthy resources, he said.
Julie Washington covers healthcare for cleveland.com. Read previous stories at this link.