Reviewing the use and quality of machine learning in developing clinical prediction models for cardiovascular disease

Simon Allan 1Raphael Olaiya 2Rasan Burhan 3

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death across the world. CVD can lead to angina, heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, and eventually, death; among many other serious conditions. The early intervention with those at a higher risk of developing CVD, typically with statin treatment, leads to better health outcomes. For this reason, clinical prediction models (CPMs) have been developed to identify those at a high risk of developing CVD so that treatment can begin at an earlier stage. Currently, CPMs are built around statistical analysis of factors linked to developing CVD, such as body mass index and family history. The emerging field of machine learning (ML) in healthcare, using computer algorithms that learn from a dataset without explicit programming, has the potential to outperform the CPMs available today. ML has already shown exciting progress in the detection of skin malignancies, bone fractures and many other medical conditions. In this review, we will analyse and explain the CPMs currently in use with comparisons to their developing ML counterparts. We have found that although the newest non-ML CPMs are effective, ML-based approaches consistently outperform them. However, improvements to the literature need to be made before ML should be implemented over current CPMs.