Smartphone app may help detect stroke symptoms, research shows


Smartphone technology can detect heart irregularities and listen to coughs to identify potential health problems. Soon, it may be able to help identity Symptoms of stroke

Stroke experts said they hope the technology can help alert people to stroke symptoms and encourage them to seek emergency medical attention more quickly.

Using machine learning algorithms, researchers have developed an app called FAST AI to detect the most common symptoms of stroke – facial asymmetry, arm weakness and speech changes. Preliminary results will be presented next week at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference.

“Our goal is very simple. We want to detect stroke early,” said Radoslav I. Raychev, the study’s lead author and a vascular neurologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The app isn’t ready for public use, and it’s unclear when it will be available or who it will be marketed to.

Ultimately, Raychev said, the goal is to move beyond the app to other devices or platforms.

“When someone is on a video chat, or when they’re talking to a ‘virtual assistant like Alexa,’ or when they’re driving their autonomous vehicle, we can use this passive monitoring to capture the patient’s symptoms.” Want to be able to. Strokes happen,” he explained.

Using the app as an educational tool

Neurologists from four major metropolitan stroke centers in Bulgaria tested the app with approximately 270 patients with confirmed acute stroke.

Using video recordings and device sensors, the app was able to identify facial symmetry with more than 97 percent accuracy and arm weakness with more than 72 percent accuracy, according to the peer-reviewed abstract. has been but has not yet been published. Medical Journal.

Raychev said the app has been tested on several hundred patients since the initial research phase. It is also designed to detect abnormal speech, but that function has not yet been tested on patients, he said.

A smartphone app that can help detect stroke symptoms is a great idea, experts said. But, he said, the app should be used to alert people to symptoms and encourage them to call 911, not as a diagnostic tool.

Some experts worry that a false-negative result could discourage some people from seeking emergency medical care, for example, which could have disastrous consequences.

“This is an interesting and exciting opportunity to see how we can use AI technology to learn more about stroke symptoms,” said Andrew Rossman, chief of the stroke program and medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center. can.”

“But in no way should it be considered a guideline for deciding whether to call 911 or for deciding whether someone is definitely having stroke symptoms. This is just one piece of information that seems interesting right now. But it has no real application yet.

Early detection is very important for stroke.

Stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain or when a vessel inside the brain bursts, is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability.

Matthew Potts, surgical director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, said time is critical in diagnosing the condition and initiating treatment protocols. “When the blood is blocked in your brain, every minute that passes, the neurons are dying,” he said.

“Clot-busting” drugs can break up clots during the first few hours of an ischemic stroke, which accounts for 87 percent of strokes, preventing or reducing brain damage.

But these drugs like Alteplase IV r-tPA should be given within 4.5 hours of the onset of ischemic stroke. In some cases, the clot can be removed during a thrombectomy, a procedure that manually removes it from the artery.

Hemorrhagic strokes can be treated with medication or require surgical intervention.

Experts say the prognosis depends on the area of ​​the brain and the amount of tissue affected, but time is important, and in some cases, prompt action can prevent damage.

Even with transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, in which the blood clot is temporary and does not cause permanent injury, it can be a warning sign that the patient is at risk of a future stroke. That’s why stroke patients—and those around them—should be aware of the symptoms.

More women than men suffer from stroke, but many people don’t realize the risk

Common warning signs of a stroke

The acronym FAST is used to teach people the most common warning signs of a stroke.

  • “F” is for facial tilt: The face may tilt to one side, especially when the person is smiling.
  • “A” is for arm weakness: when both arms are raised, one arm may begin to move downward.
  • “S” is for difficulty speaking: the person may be slurring.
  • “T” is for time: Call an ambulance immediately if anyone experiences any of these symptoms.

There are other symptoms, which the app has a hard time detecting, that could signal a stroke, Rossman said. Stroke patients experience sudden and severe headaches, confusion, loss of vision in one or both eyes, numbness or tingling on one side of their body or difficulty walking due to dizziness or loss of balance or coordination. may fall

Greg Albers, director of the Stanford Stroke Center at Stanford Medical Center, said stroke symptoms can be disabling.

“The type of vision you lose from a stroke, for example, is usually half of your visual field,” he said. “If you’re bumping into things because you can’t see, you’re waving your hands in front of your eyes and missing a lot of vision, that’s very concerning.”

“Symptoms come on very suddenly,” he added.

Other times, however, symptoms are mild, and patients may not take them seriously enough to seek medical attention, which can leave them with permanent deficits, experts said.

Albers acknowledged that it can be difficult to determine if someone is having a stroke, partly because there is a “low threshold” for people to call 911 when symptoms suggest a stroke. It should be.

Even in the emergency room, he said, medical professionals should perform brain scans and other tests before making a definitive diagnosis and starting treatment because giving a “clot-busting” drug to a patient who is having a hemorrhagic stroke — In which an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures – this can result in “a catastrophe”.

“They’re going to bleed more,” he explained.

Smartphone technology that detects stroke symptoms is intended to bring stroke patients to the ER more quickly, experts said.

“We want people to err on the side of coming to the hospital, not on the side of staying home,” said Matthew Fink, chief of neurology at Weill Cornell Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

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