AI for Heart Attack Prevention: The Story of Iker Casillas, World Cup Winning Goalkeeper

In 2019, Iker Casillas, Real Madrid goalie and World Cup Football Champion, suffered a sudden heart attack during a training session and was forced to retire from elite-level football. Overnight, his life was changed forever, and he found himself re-evaluating his life priorities.

He started to learn about cardiovascular diseases and discovered that it is the first cause of death worldwide. This is an 800 billion Euro per year problem and the high costs of lengthy treatments can often result in loss of income and force millions of people into poverty annually, especially in low-resource settings. Cardiovascular diseases threaten progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, which has a target to reduce premature deaths by one-third by 2030 (target 3.4).

But how can we reach this ambitious target and save lives?

One way is by using artificial intelligence. 300 million ECGs are manually analyzed every year by experts all around the world. If a machine could do this job in less than a second, we have the potential to reduce this time and its cost to zero. Think of the potential…

But what are the bottlenecks standing in the way of monitoring the world’s heartbeats and treating this crisis? AI needs big data to work its magic and what are the preconditions needed for trusted heart data collection and analysis on a Global level? What do regulators, policy makers and institutions need to know to help realize the full potential of AI to prevent heart disease?

Find out as Iker Casillas shares his personal journey and how he teamed up with Manuel Marina, CEO of IDOVEN, a European HealthTech startup using AI to redefine and revolutionize the diagnosis of cardiac diseases.

Interested in the topic of AI for health? Explore the work of the ITU/WHO Focus Group on AI for Health (FG-AI4H)

Speakers, Panelists and Moderators

    Former Real Madrid, FC Porto and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

    Ex professional football goalkeeper and national champion.

    He defended Real Madrid's goal for 25 years, lifting more than 28 national and international trophies, becoming a legend of the club. He is the second player with the most matches in the history of the Spanish National Team, which he captained for more than 15 years until he led it to glory, lifting the World Cup in 2010 and two consecutive European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

    Elected best goalkeeper in the world for five consecutive years, from 2008 to 2012, and being a regular in the nominations in the final list of candidates for the Golden Ball, Iker is undoubtedly one of the most important Spanish sportsmen in history.

    Iker Casillas, through the Foundation or other entities, has always been linked to social actions by taking his solidarity to a priority level in his life. Among the most outstanding actions are: UNDP Ambassador, dedicated to guaranteeing the fundamental rights of children in the world.

    After his heart disease, he started researching and looking into cardiovascular diseases and discovered that they are the leading cause of death in the world. He was shocked to learn that it kills 17 million people every year and the importance of prevention, so he joined IDOVEN as an investor and team member to try to mitigate this global problem.

    Cardiologist, CEO & Co-Founder
    Cardiologist specialized in arrhythmias and sports cardiology and IDOVEN’s CEO & CoFounder. He is a researcher at the National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) and a doctor for the Spanish Agency for Health Protection in Sport (AEPSAD) of the Higher Sports Council (CSD). Master's degree in Statistics and Research Methodology in Health Sciences from the University of Córdoba. Member of the working group on Sports Cardiology of the Spanish Society of Cardiology, member of the European Society of Cardiology and scientist of the Centre for Biomedical Research in the Cardiovascular Disease Network (CIBERCV). He has participated as author of 18 scientific publications in international medical journals (mainly in the field of arrhythmias and sports cardiology), more than 120 communications to congresses and 43 book chapters.
    Inventor, BBC "Click" Presenter
    BBC News
    World-renowned presenter LJ Rich is part of Click, the BBC’s flagship technology show. Since reading music at Oxford, she’s predicted tech trends and monitored emerging concepts in consumer electronics for over a decade, with particular interest in audio, AI and art. Her regular music show #ljtunes now has nearly 800,000 likes on Twitter’s live streaming service Periscope, and she’s performed live at some of the most prestigious venues on the planet. During her recent breast cancer treatment, LJ decided to make a video diary of her own chemo sessions to demystify it for others, which hit the top spot on the BBC website.


13 May 2021


CEST, Geneva
16:00 - 17:00