Fast test to save stroke victims launched

Nottingham: A 15-minute test which examines the blood for tell-tale chemicals that indicate a patient has had a stroke has been launched in the UK. Fast diagnose means faster treatment and improves a patients chance of survival.

The Triage Stroke Panel measures several biomarkers in a small sample of a patient’s blood and gives a score within 15 minutes. Following a stroke, multiple biomarkers — or chemicals — are released into the blood. Triage Stroke Panel test scores range from one to 10, with a high score suggesting the patient has had a stroke. A low reading means a stroke can be ruled out and other problems investigated. Around 60,000 people die as a result of a stroke each year in England and Wales, but until now there has been no rapid diagnostic test available. Doctors rely mainly on the detection of symptoms and imaging procedures, although signs of some forms of stroke cannot be seen on a CT scan until 12 to 24 hours later.

However, drugs should be given within a few hours of the onset of a stroke to be most effective.

Professor Philip Bath of Nottingham University said: ‘The discovery of biomarkers in the blood is a potentially major breakthough. Faster diagnosis can reduce the risk of irreversible brain damage and improve the chances of recovery.’ The test, made by Americanbased company Biosite Incorporated, is portable and can be used in a GP’s surgery as well as hospital.