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Blood Test May Help Spot Stroke

In Study, Blood Test Identified 98% of People Who'd Had Ischemic Stroke

Glutamate Levels Rise in Stroke Patients continued...

Glutamate levels were measured in their blood within 24 hours of their first symptoms (or in the case of people without symptoms, within 24 hours of entering the study).

Patients were given head CT scans and, in most cases, MRI scans as well, to confirm whether they were having a stroke.

After just one hour, blood levels of glutamate began to rise in patients having a stroke, Bettermann says.

"There was a clear difference in glutamate levels between ischemic stroke patients and all the other groups," she says.

Imaging Still the Gold Standard

Ralph L. Sacco, MD, head of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and immediate past president of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, tells WebMD that development of an accurate blood test to detect ischemic stroke continues to be an important goal.

Such a test could accelerate diagnosis and treatment for stroke, he says.

"This [test] seems promising, but more work is needed to make sure we are not missing cases. We also need to know if [glutamate levels] increase in people having hemorrhagic strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)," Sacco says.

For now, brain imaging is still the diagnostic tool to diagnose stroke, he says.

Bettermann says the next step will be to validate the findings in a larger study.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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