Taiwan researchers develop fast screening method for stroke risk

10/29/2020 10:09 PM
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Photo courtesy of MOST
Photo courtesy of MOST

Taipei, Oct. 28 (CNA) A research team at National Taiwan University (NTU) said it has developed a rapid screening device for assessing a person's risk of stroke, using motion analysis, imaging and artificial intelligence technology.

With the rapid screening device, people can obtain a report in 3-5 minutes that will indicate their stroke risk, in a range of low to high, Hsiao Hao-ming (蕭浩明), a professor at NTU's Department of Mechanical Engineering, said at a news conference Wednesday.

The user can place his or her chin on the top of the device, which will take a 30-second video of the person's neck and transmit the data to a cloud service for analysis, Hsiao told the news conference that was held by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

In less than five minutes, the person will receive a stroke risk assessment, including information about irregular heart rate and narrowing of the carotid arteries in the neck that carry blood to the brain, Hsiao said.

"The revolutionary digital healthcare technology uses motion analysis to extract invisible but useful information from our pulses for quantification of risk assessments," Hsiao said, adding that one of the leading stroke indicators is narrowing of the carotid arteries.

The rapid screening method developed by the NTU researchers could be used as first-line screening, before a carotid ultrasound, and it does not require the physical presence of medical professionals to give a diagnosis or interpret the results, Hsiao said.

Photo courtesy of MOST
Photo courtesy of MOST

"This product allows the general public to assess their own stroke risk at home and take the necessary actions as early as possible," he said.

The technique was developed over five years by the NTU research team, in collaboration with the Cardiovascular Center at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), using more than 500 clinical cases, and it showed an accuracy of 90 percent against the carotid ultrasound, according to Hsiao.

It has the potential to be adopted for early detection of other diseases such as arteriovenous fistula, Parkinson disease and peripheral artery disease, he said.

The imaging system has won the MOST 2020 Future Tech Award and has attracted the attention of several domestic and foreign venture capital firms, according to Hsiao.

In its effort to bring the product to market, the NTU team has set up a company that is expected to obtain a medical device permit from the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2021 or 2022, he said.

According to MOST, stroke is a leading cause of death or serious long-term disability in the world, and its treatment absorbs an estimated NT$14.6 billion (US$509.99 million) per year in Taiwan's national healthcare system.

(By Su Szu-yun and Evelyn Kao)

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