New Strategy to Reduce the Global Burden of Stroke
Interview conducted by Deepa P. Bhupali, MD
Dr. Bhupali: Can you give a brief overview on the tool you developed and address in your article?
Dr. Feigin: The Stroke Riskometer was developed with the main purpose of improving primary prevention of stroke on a global level. The application provides users with their absolute and relative risks of stroke, along with how that risk is modified as their health care profiles change. Users can monitor their results, chart progress, receive education regarding stroke symptoms, and if they choose to, share their information via email with a person of their choice. The application is available on iOS and Android platforms, and there are two versions: the Lite version which is free and the Pro version which can be purchased. The Pro version provides additional information on how to reduce stroke risk, based on one’s individual risk profile, but both versions calculate and identify risk factors, provide stroke education and offer the ability to collect data for research. This research will provide significant epidemiological insights, which are vital to improved prevention and treatment of stroke
Dr. Bhupali: What prompted you and your co-authors to create this tool?
Dr. Feigin: Our work grew out of two major observations. First, stroke is a major non-communicable disorder (NCD). Despite decrease in incidence and mortality, the overall number of people affected by NCDs – stroke, MI, diabetes, dementia – is growing. This suggests that primary prevention is not sufficiently effective. If this is not addressed and we carry on with business as usual, the burden will continue to grow. Secondly, there is a research problem. Despite pushes for epidemiological research for NCDs, the majority of countries don’t have reliable data on frequency, determinants and distribution of stroke and other NCDs. This is not because of a lack of understanding regarding research methodology. The void in data is largely related to the expense of conducting the research. Consequently, without accurate data, we cannot develop evidence based health care, planning and prevention strategies. We hope to address these two major problems — the growing burden and lack of data — with this app. This is what excites us.
Dr. Bhupali: What is innovative about this work?
Dr. Feigin: There is currently nothing else comparable to the app’s ability to capture accurate data from around the world. As an example of that, the application will be available in world’s most common languages, giving it the ability to reach the global population. Additionally, we worked very hard on the privacy aspects of this application and have implemented unique strategies to guarantee the security of users’ data and their anonymity, if they consent to participate in data collection.
Dr. Bhupali: What is one of the challenges you anticipate in introducing this tool?
Dr. Feigin: At this time, our main challenge is to let people know that the app is available. We want people to know that there is a tool that will inform them about their absolute and relative stroke risk, provide education regarding stroke symptoms and will monitor their progress and recalculate their stroke risk based on the improvements they seek to make to their health.
Dr. Bhupali: What is the key take-away message from your article?
Dr. Feigin: Stroke is highly preventable. It does not happen at random, rather it affects people who are at risk of having a stroke – and these people can reduce their risk.
We implore people to use the app now – learn about your risk factors and how to manage them. Stroke is much easier to prevent than to treat, we want to let people know that they can help prevent stroke and safeguard their health and well-being.