LVO stroke test a ‘game changer’

Hypertension – high blood pressure – is the number one cause of death and disability in Australia, and indeed worldwide. It can lead to heart attacks and strokes, including one particular type of stroke known as an LVO. Strokes are themselves one of the leading causes of death and disability. 

The problem with hypertension is that without a blood pressure measurement, many people will be blissfully unaware they have it. Regular checks via your GP or using your own personal blood pressure monitor (easily obtained through pharmacies) can change this.

Nonetheless, many people still don’t bother with check-ups, in part because they feel perfectly healthy. They have no other symptoms. Many then find out too late, after they have suffered a stroke. But now, a newly developed blood test could help those who have suffered a stroke achieve complete reversal of the damage.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed a test that combines blood-based biomarkers with a clinical score. The combination is used to identify patients experiencing what’s known as a large vessel occlusion – LVO stroke – with high accuracy.

Dr Joshua Bernstock, a senior author of the study published in the journal Stroke: Vascular and Interventional Neurology,  and a clinical fellow in the department of neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says the test is revolutionary.

“We have developed a game-changing, accessible tool,” he said. It’s a tool “that could help ensure that more people suffering from stroke are in the right place at the right time to receive critical, life-restoring care”.

How will this test help LVO stroke victims?

As a specific subset of strokes, LVO strokes occur when there is an obstruction in a major artery in the brain. Swift treatment with a mechanical thrombectomy, a surgical procedure that retrieves the blockage that causes the stroke, can undo the damage resulting from an LVO stroke.

 But differentiating an LVO stroke from other conditions is key. One of those other conditions is bleeding in the brain. Brain bleeds require a vastly different treatment, but produce symptoms similar to an LVO stroke. This makes early identification of LVO strokes crucial to a patient’s outcome.

“The earlier this intervention is enacted, the better the patient’s outcome is going to be,” said Dr Bernstock. “This exciting new technology has the potential to allow more people globally to get this treatment faster.”

The treatment has proved so successful that many who have undergone mechanical thrombectomy have made full recoveries. For people who would have died or become significantly disabled, it’s “as if their stroke never happened”, said Dr Bernstock.

What next?

The results of the study are extremely promising. When the combined data test was done within six hours of the onset of symptoms, it detected LVO stroke with 93 per cent specificity and 81 per cent sensitivity.

That augurs well for the future but, as with all research, further trials will be required before these tests are widely available.

In the meantime, getting a regular blood check-up is probably a very sensible thing to do. It could help prevent the need for the new test, and the need for a mechanical thrombectomy.

Do you have your blood pressure checked regularly? Has anyone close to you suffered a stroke? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: The five health conditions that can mimic stroke symptoms

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.
- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -