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Smartphone app that could help identify stroke symptoms as they occur 

Scientists develop smartphone app that spots stroke symptoms as they occur — looking at facial droopiness and slurred speech

In the US one person suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and in the UK it is every five minutes, and acting quickly is key to preventing lasting brain damage.

However the symptoms, which include a drooping face on one side, slurred speech or being unable to lift an arm, are not so easily recognizable in an emergency.

Now, scientists have come up with an app that could help family and friends recognize a stroke when it is taking place – prompting them to call for an ambulance.

Scientists in the University of California developed an app that uses facial recognition and speaking patterns to detect whether a person is having a stroke with near 100 percent accuracy (file photo)

The app, called FAST.AI, uses a facial video of the patient to examine 69 facial points, measure arm movement and detect speech changes.

A team from the University of California trialed it on nearly 270 patients who had been diagnosed with acute stroke, within 72 hours of hospital admission.

Neurologists who examined the patients tested the app then compared the results with their own clinical diagnosis.

Analysis found the app accurately detected stroke-associated facial drooping in nearly 100 percent of patients.

The app also accurately detected arm weakness in more than two-thirds of cases, and preliminary analysis suggests it may also be able to reliably detect slurred speech.

It is important to recognize the signs of a stroke straight away since clot-busting medication should be administered within three hours after symptoms begin.

The faster the treatment is administered, the more likely for a better recovery.

Researchers said their study is ongoing and the app is still in development and not available to the public.

Author Radoslav Raychev said: ‘Many stroke patients don’t make it to the hospital in time for treatment, which is one reason why it is vital to recognize stroke symptoms and call [for help] right away.

‘These early results confirm the app reliably identified acute stroke symptoms as accurately as a neurologist, and they will help to improve the app’s accuracy in detecting signs and symptoms of stroke.’

The findings were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Dallas, Texas.

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