Researchers develop a blood test that can detect stroke quickly

Every year, 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke, according to the CDC.
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Posted at 10:34 AM, May 24, 2024

Researchers with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and other collaborators have developed a stroke detection blood test that could save lives.

“Time is brain. So the earlier we can make an accurate diagnosis, the more effective we are in moving patients to the correct hospital for the care that they need,” said Josh Bernstock, MD, a clinical fellow in the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a surgeon scientist.

The blood test picks up two biomarkers in the blood — GFAP, or glial fibrillary acidic protein, and D-dimer. One indicates a clot and the other is a marker of brain bleeds.

“So using our test, we rule in clot and rule out brain bleeds. And when combined with a very simple clinical score, this sort of delivers a result that's incredibly specific and highly accurate and actionable,” Bernstock said.

The study found that giving this test within six hours of the start of symptoms came back with 93% specificity and 81% sensitivity for LVO ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or narrowed. An LVO, or large vessel occlusion, ischemic stroke is a subtype of ischemic stroke.

The researchers looked at data from 323 patients coded for stroke in Florida from May 2021 to August 2022 for the study.

“The study we just published is sort of the prospective clinical validation of the markers and test we developed in the laboratory,” Bernstock said.

@scrippsnews With stroke being a leading cause of death in the United States, researchers have developed a new #stroke detection blood test, which helps those in need receive care much faster. Here’s how it works. #healthtok #news ♬ original sound - Scripps News

Every year, 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke, according to the CDC. And 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes.

New statistics released from the CDC Thursday also found that stroke rates increased by 15% among people younger than 65 from 2011 to 2022.

Now, the researchers behind the blood test are running trials.

“We’re passionate about getting this out of the laboratory and from the bench to the bedside. That’s why we're excited to sort of prospectively validate some of this work in patients,” Bernstock said.

CT scan showing brain.

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