Blood test diagnoses stroke fast

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In the U.S., 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year. Doctors say time is brain: Patients and their families must act fast if they recognize the symptoms.

In that same vein, researchers are on their way to finding better diagnosis.

Lauren Barnathan wrapped up her workout earlier in the day and was meditating when something horrific happened. She had a stroke.

"I had no idea what was going on," she said. "I was screaming at my husband not to call 911 as he's doing it. Just complete denial."

While in Tampa General Hospital, a blood sample was taken, one that could help doctors find a way to speed up stroke diagnosis.

More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States. Reaction time is critical.

"Acute nature of the disease makes it important to be able to do everything we can to find out everything we can about the patient in a very short amount of time at the beginning, as soon as they show symptoms," VuEssence Inc. President Dr. Maha Sallam said.

That is why Sallam says blood samples are being tested at the VuEssence lab at the University of South Florida.

"We have worked really hard to reduce amount of time it takes to measure the gene expression in the blood, which is what we base our test on," Sallam said.

Researchers are trying to develop a quick molecular genetic blood test that detects blood clot strokes as fast as possible. Right now, doctors rely on clinical assessments, MRIs and CT imaging.

"I think it would be a game changer at a minimum," Sallam said.

"I still remember the night of my stroke when they were consenting me to be a part of the test, and even during my stroke, I just remember thinking, 'How cool is that?'" Barnathan said.

The most recent statistics show a decline in stroke death rates. But the risk of ischemic stroke in smokers is about double that of nonsmokers. Ischemic stroke is when an artery to the brain is blocked.

MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS
RESEARCH SUMMARY
TOPIC: BLOOD TEST DIAGNOSES STROKE FAST
REPORT: MB #4621

BACKGROUND: Strokes in young adults are reported as being uncommon, comprising ten to 15 percent of all stroke patients. However, compared with stroke in older adults, stroke in the young has a disproportionately large economic impact by leaving victims disabled before their most productive years. Recent publications report an increased incidence of stroke in young adults. This is important given the fact that younger stroke patients have a clearly increased risk of death compared with the general population. Prevention is the primary treatment strategy aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality related to stroke, such as treatment of risk factors for stroke, like hypertension, smoking, and dyslipidemia. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4348138/)

ACT FAST: People who present with acute stroke need immediate clinical assessment and treatment. Few people have much awareness of the symptoms of stroke and may delay seeking help as a result; hence the need for the Act FAST campaign. FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke. F stands for face, does one side of the face droop? A is for arms, does one arm drift downward? S is for speech, is their speech slurred or strange? And T is for time, if you see these things, call 911 immediately. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53285/ & https://www.stroke.org/understandstroke/recognizing-stroke/act-fast/)

STROKE TEST: Maha Sallam, PhD, President of VuEssence Inc is working on a blood test to diagnose
strokes faster. "We're targeting it at this moment for people who show acute signs of stroke. We're basing our test on doing an analysis of the blood and measuring the biology that's happening within the body at that time. So, there is actually potential for extending that beyond acute state to where we analyze the patients as they go through the treatment process and maybe as they're assessed as to the reason behind the stroke and how to best manage the patient later on," said Sallam. Currently they are in preclinical trials and are hopeful it could be out in a handful of years. (Source: Maha Sallam, PhD)