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New “smart” mobile application recognizes in real time the symptoms of a stroke


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The app recognizes common stroke symptoms as they happen

A new smartphone app called FAST.AI can help people and those around them know in real time whether they’re having a stroke. Using the device’s camera, the application, thanks to its special artificial intelligence (machine learning) algorithms, recognizes the common symptoms of a stroke as it happens.

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The app takes videos of the face and body, using sensors and algorithms to detect cues such as the face “hanging” to one side, hand numbness or slurred speech. The first tests show that the application has a diagnosis accuracy similar to that of a neurologist. Early diagnosis of a stroke can speed up treatment, and this valuable time gained will likely minimize the long-term effects of the episode, increasing the chances of a full recovery.

The researchers, led by Bulgarian-born University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) neurology professor Radoslav Raichev, will make the announcement at the American Heart Association’s international conference in Dallas, Texas (8-10/2). The application was tested on 270 patients with an average age of 71 years who had been diagnosed with a stroke in four Bulgarian hospitals.

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Bulgarian neurologists examined the patients and simultaneously tested the application, then compared the results. FAST.AI detected facial asymmetry (a classic stroke symptom) in nearly 100% of patients, and it also identified arm weakness in over two-thirds of cases. It also satisfactorily detected speech confusion due to stroke.

Ischemic strokes make up about 85% of all strokes (the rest are hemorrhagic). Antithrombotic drugs should be administered within a few hours of the onset of symptoms. The faster this happens, the lower the incidence of ischemic stroke. An average of 1.9 million brain cells are estimated to die every minute that goes by without stroke treatment, according to the American Stroke Association. Patients who receive medication within the first 90 minutes after a stroke are nearly three times more likely to recover without complications.

“Many stroke patients do not make it to the hospital in time to receive antithrombotic treatment, which is one reason why it is vital to recognize the symptoms of stroke and call an ambulance immediately,” said Dr Raichev.

The fully automated application, developed by the company Neuronics Medical (of which Raichev is a co-founder), in cooperation with the Bulgarian Society of Neurology and in particular its president Ivan Milanov, is still in the development and refinement phase, so it is not available to the public.


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