What can machines learn about heart failure? A systematic literature review

A. Jasinska-Piadlo (Lead / Corresponding author), R. Bond, P. Biglarbeigi, R. Brisk, P. Campbell, D. McEneaneny

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


This paper presents a systematic literature review with respect to application of data science and machine learning (ML) to heart failure (HF) datasets with the intention of generating both a synthesis of relevant findings and a critical evaluation of approaches, applicability and accuracy in order to inform future work within this field. This paper has a particular intention to consider ways in which the low uptake of ML techniques within clinical practice could be resolved. Literature searches were performed on Scopus (2014-2021), ProQuest and Ovid MEDLINE databases (2014-2021). Search terms included ‘heart failure’ or ‘cardiomyopathy’ and ‘machine learning’, ‘data analytics’, ‘data mining’ or ‘data science’. 81 out of 1688 articles were included in the review. The majority of studies were retrospective cohort studies. The median size of the patient cohort across all studies was 1944 (min 46, max 93260). The largest patient samples were used in readmission prediction models with the median sample size of 5676 (min. 380, max. 93260). Machine learning methods focused on common HF problems: detection of HF from available dataset, prediction of hospital readmission following index hospitalization, mortality prediction, classification and clustering of HF cohorts into subgroups with distinctive features and response to HF treatment. The most common ML methods used were logistic regression, decision trees, random forest and support vector machines. Information on validation of models was scarce. Based on the authors’ affiliations, there was a median 3:1 ratio between IT specialists and clinicians. Over half of studies were co-authored by a collaboration of medical and IT specialists. Approximately 25% of papers were authored solely by IT specialists who did not seek clinical input in data interpretation. The application of ML to datasets, in particular clustering methods, enabled the development of classification models assisting in testing the outcomes of patients with HF. There is, however, a tendency to over-claim the potential usefulness of ML models for clinical practice. The next body of work that is required for this research discipline is the design of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with the use of ML in an intervention arm in order to prospectively validate these algorithms for real-world clinical utility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-183
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Data Science and Analytics
Issue number3
Early online date30 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Data analytics
  • Data science
  • Heart failure
  • Heart failure dataset
  • Machine learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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