Your voice could be the tell-tale sign of a bad heart, a new study suggests.
Beyond Verbal, a voice analytics company, worked with The Mayo Clinic to find links between vocal features and coronary artery disease. The study’s diagnostic tool found that a single biomarker in the voice signal was associated with a 19-fold increased likelihood of CAD.
“This is so groundbreaking and new, that it’s hard to describe in layman’s terms,” Yuval Mor, the CEO of Beyond Verbal, told the NY Daily News.
Mor compared the vocal characteristics that were studied like human vision, where the naked eye can see a range of wavelengths, but needs help from specialized sensors to see infrared waves or ultraviolet rays. Beyond Vision’s diagnostic tool extracts vocal information in a similar fashion, he said.
“It can analyze the voice and identify different medical conditions in a way that the human ear can’t hear,” he said.
Patients’ voices were recorded using an application downloaded on their smartphone. Their voices were analyzed for multiple features of voice intensity and frequency. The recordings were conducted for 120 patients. Each recording was in English and 30 seconds long.
“The idea eventually is to give people an app so we can check on them and tell them if everything is OK,” Mor said in a press release. “We are opening the door for something completely new that can make a huge difference in the medical community.”
Beyond Verbal’s previous research has suggested a link between voice and signal characteristics and neurological disorders. The study explained the voice as a novel diagnostic approach to helping identify multiple health issues within the body.
“Voice signal characteristics have been suggested to be associated with a number of different pathological entities,” the study said. “As a systemic inflammatory process, [CAD] is associated [with] multiple pathologic processes such as chronic kidney disease, cerebrovascular disease and vascular dementia, rentinopathy and peripheral artery disease.”
Thirteen voice features were associated with CAD, but the strongest association between voice and CAD was found when patients were requested to record their voice while describing a negative experience. The association was independent of age, gender and other traditional cardiovascular risk factors.
Sonde Health, a digital medicine company, is another company developing a voice-based technology platform as well. The Boston-based company aims to develop software for consumers that can screen for depression, respiratory conditions and cardiovascular issues.
“Speaking is something that we do naturally every day,” Sonde COO Jim Harper said to Scientific American.
The company plans to analyze audio clips of patients reading aloud but hopes to develop technology that can extract vocal features without having to record the words. AudioProfiling, a company based in Berlin, and Cognito, another Boston company, are all in the race to determine what the voice can say about a person’s health.
Beyond Verbal is a commercial company developing tools for voice analysis, including voice analysis tools for the diagnosis of disease states. During the past 21 years, the company has collected more than 2.5 million emotion-tagged voice samples in more than 40 languages to analyze human emotions.
“A patient’s voice is the most readily available, easy to capture, and rich output the body offers,” Mor said.