The AUT neurologist behind a stroke risk app translated into 14 languages took out this year’s Excellence in Stroke Award for Australasia.
Professor Valery Feigin received the award last month at the annual conference of the Stroke Society of Australasia in recognition of his innovative contribution to stroke prevention.
Feigin, director of AUT’s National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neuroscience, said he was honoured to receive the award and took it as recognition of the work his team and himself had undertaken in the primary prevention of stroke.
In 2014 the team launched the Stroke Riskometer™ – a free mobile app that uses a series of 20 evidence-based questions to evaluate a person’s risk of stroke within the next five to 10 years.
The app – that aims to educate people about the warning signs and risk factors of stroke and motivate them to change their behaviour – has been translated into 14 languages and downloaded more than 150,000 times in 78 countries with Czech and Bulgarian languages to be available soon.
Users of the app can also choose to anonymously opt into the RIBURST (Reducing the International Burden of Stroke Using Mobile Technology) study which involves 300 stroke researchers in 102 countries and now has more than 12,000 participants.
Feigin said deaths and disability from stroke – and the number of people requiring rehabilitation – was ever-increasing. “The demand for already overstretched health resources is growing fast and may even threaten the sustainability of the entire health system,” he believed.
“Even if we increase the number of hospital beds and health professionals we won’t solve the problem, because the number of people who require help is growing much faster than the funding available.”
He said the results of a recent randomised controlled trial suggested that widespread use of the Riskometer app in New Zealand could prevent about 300 strokes and save $25 million annually.
Feigin there are major gaps in the current primary prevention strategies. He believed the emphasis needed to shift from high-risk prevention to population-wide prevention and mobile technologies offer promising new ways to bridge the divide. “The only solution is effective primary prevention”.
Stroke Riskometer is supported by the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand and endorsed by the World Stroke Organisation, World Federation of Neurology and World Heart Federation.