Cardiac Disease: Preventative Analytics – by Jeremy Stierwalt

Cardiac Disease Infographic

By Jeremy Stierwalt
Service Line Director, Analytics

Sports & Entertainment Lead
Optimal Solutions an NTT Data Company

As a technology professional, I see the potential for statistical and analytical applications nearly everywhere: football, basketball, baseball, racing…and your everyday businesses.

Over the years, I’ve worked with countless companies to help them leverage big data and analytics to improve processes, save money, promote their brand, and become more reliable and profitable.  I realize that numbers and data can have some powerful implications on many areas of life and business, but what gives me inspiration in my work is where I can witness, and even participate in, using data to save and enrich lives.

As someone who has personally been affected by a heart condition (and heart surgery) years ago, heart health is of particular interest to me… and I’m not the only one.

  • The Start Training program is sponsored by the American Heart Association that seeks to promote awareness and prevention of heart attack and stroke. You can participate as a runner or a donor.  In fact, a friend and colleague (Dave Ogiba, Optimal Solutions) is doing just that.  If you want to help Dave and the American Heart Association, Click here to learn more or donate.

From a data and analytics perspective, I realize that there is much we can do in the field to help inform, detect and ultimately prevent heart disease fatalities.  First, let’s look at the numbers:

The Data on Heart Disease

  • Heart disease kills approximately 1 in every 4 Americans in the United States. That makes it the leading cause of death in this country.*
  • About half of all Americans have at least 1 of 3 risk factors for heart disease (these include high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, & poor diet)*
  • About 47% of heart attacks occur outside a hospital.*
  • Only 27% of Americans are aware of all major symptoms of a heart attack (beyond chest pain)*
  • Cardiac arrest can kill a person in about 8 minutes
  • The use of CPR and quick defibrillation can increase survival rates for heart attack victims by 38%
  • Nearly 70% of Americans do not know how to apply CPR or use a defibrillator 

Just by looking at these basic statistics, we can deduce 3 very critical insights: that heart disease is to some degree preventable, that early action is critical in heart attack survival, and that information could literally save lives in respect to heart disease.  Non-medical professionals can have a huge impact on heart disease fatalities just by knowing the risks, recognizing the symptoms and educating themselves on the proper emergency protocols.

While doctors and medical researchers are at the forefront of combatting the disease, big data can also contribute in significant ways. Take for example, the recent data revelation that health officials in Wake County, Raleigh, N.C. utilized to change the way they administer CPR. Using data analysis regressions calculated by the Big Data Advanced Analytics Lab, it was determined that the standard 25 minutes of CPR was insufficient, and that one hour of CPR could greatly increase the chances of a heart attack victims’ survival. Wake County EMS is now working with other agencies across the country to share their findings.  In a related project, the EMS is looking at data to determine how to better filter emergency vs. non-emergency ER clients, in order to more quickly and effectively treat the priority cases.

These are only a few examples of how data is helping to combat heart disease and save lives.  And the beautiful thing about data is that, unlike a pill or machine, once captured it can be utilized to help institutions and people over and over again.  The research that data professionals are conducting now in the realm of heart disease will truly be a perennial gift with limitless influence.

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