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Technology to detect strokes sooner

Created date

April 24th, 2015
brain showing stroke
brain showing stroke

Over 700,000 strokes occur each year in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health, and these events are a leading cause of long-term injury, disability, and death. When it comes to treating a stroke, time is of utmost importance. But treatment is contingent upon the type of stroke that’s occurring, and figuring that out can take precious time. 

Most strokes are of the ischemic variety, which means blood flow to the brain is blocked, usually by a clot. The other type of stroke is hemorrhagic (or bleeding) in the brain. There is no way to tell from someone’s symptoms which kind of stroke is happening. Treatments for ischemic strokes such as clot-busting drugs need to be administered as soon as possible in order to reduce the chance of injury. But a clot-busting medication given to someone having a hemorrhagic stroke can have serious or deadly consequences. By the time someone has symptoms, is transported to the hospital, and the type of stroke diagnosis is made, significant damage can occur.

Strokefinder

Researchers in Sweden are hoping to shorten the length of time between stroke symptom onset and diagnosis. They’ve developed a helmet-like device that can be used in an ambulance. Called Strokefinder, it works by transmitting weak microwaves into the brain to diagnose the type of stroke. The scientists recently tested the Strokefinder on a study set of patients and found that the machine can, in fact, differentiate between an ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. In addition, the machine is self-learning, which means every time it is used on a patient, it learns from the data it receives. The study authors say the Strokefinder may help more people receive rapid diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

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