Bedside technology separates strokes from benign dizziness

A new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital published this week in the journal Stroke explores new bedside technology that can identify strokes, separating them from what may just be benign dizziness.

The electronic device, which measures eye movements, has shown it can successfully determine whether the cause of strong dizziness is a stroke or not, an announcement from Johns Hopkins Medicine states.

"Using this device can directly predict who has had a stroke and who has not," said study lead author David Newman-Toker, an associate professor of neurology and otolaryngology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "We're spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on expensive stroke work-ups that are unnecessary, and probably missing the chance to save tens of thousands of lives because we aren't properly diagnosing their dizziness or vertigo as stroke symptoms."

For the study, researchers recorded the eye movements of adult emergency department patients with acute vestibular syndrome defined as different types of dizziness, nausea or head motion intolerance. They concluded that device-based physiological diagnosis of stroke soon will be possible, and if confirmed in a larger sample, could fulfill a "critical need" for more timely and efficient diagnosis of patients at high risk for stroke.

According to Newman-Toker, the device could be the equivalent of an electrocardiogram, which is routinely used to rule out heart attacks in patients experiencing chest pain. If the device is universally used, it could "virtually eliminate deaths from misdiagnosis and save a lot of time and money," he said.

In late December, researchers publishing in the journal PLOS ONE said they had developed a new software tool that, used in conjunction with MRI scans, could help physicians determine the extent of damage to the blood-brain barrier in stroke victims, leading to safer, more individualized treatments for those patients.

To learn more:
- here's the study
- read the Johns Hopkins announcement

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