Action News Jax Investigates: New technology helping doctors diagnose strokes in women quicker

Breakthrough technology, developed here in Jacksonville, could minimize stroke damage. Stroke is the nation’s fifth leading cause of death and impacts far more women than men.

Action News Jax Letisha Bereola reports on how artificial intelligence can save precious time. She talks to a local stroke survivor on why every second counts.

Alyssa Duane, 28, stayed at home from work with a headache and the next day her health took a major turn.

"I'm just thankful to be alive,” said Duane. “I never thought it would happen to me.”

The next day Duane didn't drop off her 11 month old daughter at the babysitter. Knowing something was wrong, her husband called. Duane finally pick up using her Apple Watch.

"I could hear some breathing and then I could hear some maybe moaning or grunts, that's when I know something was very wrong,” said Kevin Duane.

Alyssa's husband, Kevin, called his neighbor and asked him to check on Alyssa. He saw her lying on the kitchen floor through the window, discovering she’d been there for three hours. She was having as stroke.

Alyssa was rushed to the hospital but a diagnosis took time. It’s precious time when an estimated 1.9 million neurons die every minute during a stroke. It’s the reason Jacksonville’s Mayo Clinic partnered with NLP Logix to develop a way to speed up the diagnosis. It was one the most serious forms of stroke called intracerebral hemorrhage, or ICH.

"A person with an ICH will have that CAT scan analyzed by the machinery and outputs specific treatment interventions for better outcome,” said Dr. David Freeman.

ICH wasn't the type of stroke Duane suffered from, but the new technology could help save others like her. Still, the family is still grappling with Alyssa having a stroke at 28 years old.

"That's something that doesn't happen to young people. It's certainly doesn't happen to young runners, it doesn't happen to people who take great care of themselves like Alyssa does,” said Kevin Duane.

According to a study by the American Medical Association stroke in young people is steadily rising.

Between 1994 and 2012, emergency room visits increased for women between 18 and 45.

Dr. Rabih Tawk from the Mayo Clinic, "Looking healthy and living healthy does not mean that your genes are not prediposing you or there's no disease that's going on in your body."

Tawk says obesity and heart disease increase stroke risk at any age. The American Heart association considers birth control pills a "hidden stroke risk" saying women who take even low-estrogen birth control pills may be twice as likely to have a stroke than those who don't. Duane was on birth control but her doctors don't think there is a connection.

"We really don't have an explanation for my stroke. I'm just going to live with that and keep telling my story,” said Duane.

Duane and her husband hope their story is a reminder, especially to women, that a stroke can happen to anyone, at any age.

Click here to see the Stroke warning signs and symptoms from the American Heart association.

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