AI software helps stroke victims make a full recovery

Using artificial intelligence (AI) software to diagnose strokes has helped increase the proportion of victims who make a full recovery. That’s the finding of initial analysis of data on more than 100,000 suspected stroke patients.

The technology has been used at 22 NHS hospitals across the country and helps doctors to make a diagnosis quickly. This has led to an uptick in people going on to live normal lives in the aftermath of the medical event from 16 per cent to 48 per cent.

It’s been known for years that responding to the symptoms of a stroke quickly is vital to prevent long-term damage. The FAST acronym - face, arms, speech, time - has been promoted to ensure patients are treated promptly if a stroke occurs.

Using AI algorithms to help doctors interpret brain scans facilitates a speedier and more accurate diagnosis. The technology is supplied by Brainomix and has been hailed by the health secretary Steve Barclay.

He said: “Brainomix is an incredible example of how this can be achieved, using the power of AI to shave lifesaving minutes off one of the most time-sensitive diagnoses in medicine meaning patients get the treatment they need faster.”

Some 85,000 people suffer a stroke every year in the UK and the risk increases with age. The majority occur in individuals over 55, while personal and family medical history, ethnicity and lifestyle factors also play a part.

There are two main types of stroke - ischemic and hemorrhagic - with the former preventing blood from reaching the brain due to a blockage, and the latter flooding the brain with blood after a vessel bursts. Both result in a shortage of blood to key parts of the brain.

Paralysis and speech problems are more likely to occur the longer a patient is starved of blood to the vital organ. AI software has cut average diagnosis to treatment time by an hour, from 140 to 79 minutes, making a perceptible difference to the quality of life of individuals.

Dr Timothy Ferris, director of transformation at NHS England, said: “Every minute saved during the initial hospital assessment of people with stroke-like symptoms can dramatically improve a patient's chance of leaving hospital in good health.”

Photo credit: Unsplash/Izzy Park