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Three-point tool to identify stroke

GPs could use a 'simple three-item instrument' to identify the common presenting symptoms in patients with stroke, and to educate the public to improve the recognition of stroke in the community.

In a new study, the three most common presenting symptoms in patients with an acute stroke were arm weakness, affecting 77 per cent of patients, speech disturbance, at 31 per cent, and sensory disturbance, at 18 per cent.

From this, academics from the University of Newcastle

devised the tool, which they say GPs could use to confirm a diagnoses of acute stroke.

Patients with arm weakness and speech disturbance were diagnosed with an acute stroke or TIA in 90 per cent of cases.

Three symptoms – arm weakness and speech and visual

disturbance – increased the accuracy to 93 per cent. A combination of five symptoms, including face, arm and leg weakness and speech and visual disturbance, was predictive in 95 per cent of cases.

The data, drawn from an analysis of 630 patients seen in an acute stroke unit over one year, was presented at the International Stroke Conference in San Francisco this week.

Dr Jonathan Mant, senior

lecturer in public health at

the university of Birmingham and a researcher into the epidemiology of stroke, said: 'It is important the public know what a stroke is and what it looks like, so I think the research is important from that point of view.

'It wouldn't do any harm for GPs to know it as well.'

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