SMARTPHONES could identify stroke symptoms as they happen with a new app.
American researchers found the FAST.AI app is as accurate at spotting the condition as a neurologist.
It works by using your phone’s camera to measure changes to one side of the face and arms, while using its microphone to detect slurred speech.
Noticing any of these symptoms means it is time to call 999, according to the NHS.
Recognising the signs early can see patients treated quicker, minimising the risk of long-term problems and improving the chances of a full recovery.
Study author Professor Radoslav Raychev, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said the latest data suggests the app could help them do this.
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He said: “Many stroke patients don't make it to the hospital in time for clot-busting treatment, which is why it is vital to recognise stroke symptoms and call an ambulance right away.
"These early results confirm the app reliably identified acute stroke symptoms as accurately as a neurologist.
“They will help to improve the app's accuracy in detecting signs and symptoms of stroke.”
Some 100,000 people suffer a stroke every year in the UK, with 1.3million survivors currently living in the country.
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They are usually caused by a blood clot blocking the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
This is more likely in people who smoke, are obese, have high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes, or drink too much alcohol.
Symptoms usually begin suddenly and vary from person to person depending on which part of the brain is affected.
The latest early research, presented at American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2023, testing nearly 270 stroke patients.
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The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person, but usually begin suddenly
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
- Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
Source: The NHS
They were tested within 72 hours of hospital admission at four major metropolitan stroke centres in Bulgaria.
Neurologists who examined the patients tested the app then compared the FAST.AI results with their clinical impressions.
The app accurately detected stroke-associated facial asymmetry in nearly all the patients.
It also spotted arm weakness in more than two-thirds of the cases.
And while the slurred speech module remains to be fully validated and tested, preliminary analysis confirmed it may be able to reliably detect slurred speech.
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Professor Daniel Lackland, of the American Stroke Association, welcomed the app as a tool to prompt people with stroke symptoms to seek care in a short window of opportunity.
He said: "The app may help individuals assess the signs of a stroke without the need to recall the warning signs."
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