Every year, about 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke and more than 16% of Americans who suffer stroke die each year. This places the stroke as the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
Situation worldwide isn't any better. Strokes are the second largest cause of death, accounting for a 15 million deaths in 2015, combined with ischaemic heart disease. Even if it doesn't result in death, stroke may cause irreparable damage and serious disabilities.
There are several health conditions that significantly increase the risk of developing strokes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atrial fibrillation. Unhealthy habits and lifestyle could also contribute the risk.
Strokes are basically 'brain attacks' in which the blood supply to parts of the brain is disrupted or cut-off completely, which means that the cells in the affected brain part stay without the vital oxygen and glucose, and they begin to die.
The permanent damage can be prevented only if stroke is recognized and treated on time. Otherwise, strokes can lead to brain damage, disability and death.
Stroke may affect different parts of the brain which control different parts of the body. This is why the symptoms of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is affected, and they may vary from person to person. However, onset is sudden and in most cases the main symptoms affect the face, speech and arm strength.
Recognizing signs of stroke and reacting as soon as you spot them can save life of stroke sufferers and prevent irreparable damage to their bodies and abilities. This is especially important for clinicians who are supposed to provide an urgent medical care.
Mobile apps can be helpful by providing the important recommendations, calculators and treatment options to medical providers who manage patients with high stroke risk. Check our list of best apps for stroke prevention, diagnosis and management.
One of the leading causes of stroke is atrial fibrillation, which is associated with a 5-fold risk if left untreated. AFib is usually recognized by specific symptoms and signs, which include palpitations in the chest area, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, etc. However, atrial fibrillation often stays undiagnosed and untreated because it can be asymptomatic.
Once diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, patients are required to start treatment with oral anticoagulants, but this decision is completely intuitive for most healthcare providers because of high bleeding risk for patients.
Knowing how to calculate stroke and bleeding risk, as well as the effects of particular anticoagulant drugs is essential before starting the therapy.
American College of Cardiology (ACC) created AnticoagEvaluator app with the aim to assist clinicians dealing with these complex questions and decisions on stroke and bleeding risk, as well as benefits and risks of therapy with oral anticoagulants.
It is a great decision support tool on the best antithrombotic therapy options, allowing healthcare providers to discuss these options with their patients and explain them the benefits and risks before starting the therapy.
Most commonly used anticoagulant medication is Warfarin, which requires complex monitoring and dosage adjustments and comes with an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke. Some medical providers rather choose target-specific oral anticoagulant (TSOAC) instead of Warfarin for their patients.
But, would your patient with atrial fibrillation benefit from TSOAC or should you continue prescribing them Warfarin, and if so, how would you adjust dose?
The University of Michigan developed MAQI2 Anticoagulation Toolkit app, with purpose to help clinicians who manage patients on an anticoagulant therapy to answer those questions and make the decision making process a lot simpler.
The app is based on Anticoagulation Toolkit PDF, as well on several other published guidelines, and it helps healthcare providers calculate stroke risk scores, as well as major bleeding for patients on Warfarin, thanks to easy to use interface and calculators.
Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. App
One of the most important things when dealing with stroke is how to recognize it, because fast reaction is crucial. Many use the F.A.S.T. acronym which is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke. This acronym stands for:
- FACE - Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- ARMS - Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- SPEECH - Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase or sentence. Is their speech slurred or they're unable to speak?
- TIME - If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
American Heart Association (AHA) developed the free app for Android and iPhone, which is available in English and Spanish, with an aim to help both patients and providers recognize the early symptoms of stroke and get the treatment as soon as possible.
When a patient suffers a stroke, the outcome and the recovery often depend on how quickly they receive medical care. Specialists, such as neurologists would use brain scan images to determine how to treat strokes. But, sometimes specialists may not be available at the time, especially in rural hospitals.
The ResolutionMD mobile app for Android and iPhone allows doctors to diagnose a stroke patient and begin prescribing treatment, even if they're not at the hospital.
This app enables physicians to view and manipulate remote medical images in high-res 3D on their mobile devices, allowing for a quick diagnosis and the treatment of stroke, but also cardiac arrest, or other emergencies.
Neurologists, but also other specialists can use ResolutionMD app to access their patient in real-time, regardless of where they and their patients are located, which makes this app particularly well-suited for remote or rural medical settings.
Constant Therapy App
Stroke is often followed by many complications that can deteriorate life of the patients. Most commonly affected are speech and cognitive abilities. Recovery from stroke is long and requires a lot of patience and hard work.
The scientists at Boston University developed a free mobile app for iPhone and Android named Constant Therapy, which is a speech therapy app designed to help people recovering from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or who have aphasia, dementia and other speech-language disorders.
The app features exercises, which are specifically customized for each patient's unique needs. This exercise program follows and adapts to patient's progress every day.
Constant Therapy is aimed at both patients and medical professionals. Patients can use the app independently at home or with their clinician, who can use the app with multiple patients, and monitor their progress to make better clinical decisions.