A SENIOR researcher from the University of Bolton is working on a potentially life-saving invention which uses microwave technology to detect whether people are at risk of having a stroke.

If successful, it is hoped the equipment could become part of everyone’s home first-aid kit to detect people at risk of stroke, which is the UK’s third biggest killer after heart disease and cancer.

Professor Elias Siores, director of research at the university, said: “Where as a person may show symptoms before they have a heart attack, it’s likely a person with a heavily blocked carotid artery will be oblivious to their high risk of stroke, right up until the moment the stroke happens.

“But just as patients can now check their own blood pressure, it makes sense for people to monitor their carotid artery’s health at home, with an instrument the size of a mobile phone.”

Prof Siores is working with surgeons and scientists from the department of cardiology at the Athens University research hospital, Hippokration, in Greece, to develop a device using microwave radiometry (MR).

MR is already used in oncology, detecting abnormal internal body temperature, which is indicative of abnormal cellular activity and potential cancer growth. And Prof Siores wants to develop MR technology to create a low-cost home-use device that can detect narrowing of the carotid artery, which supplies blood to the brain.

The artery is vulnerable to cholesterol damage, or “furring up”. If it becomes too narrowed, blood flow to the brain is reduced, causing a stroke.

He said: “MR technology as it exists now could currently be used by consultants, and if there looked to be abnormal temperature readings then a patient would be sent for ultrasound.

“We are now looking for a company with whom we can develop this technology for the home market. How soon we could have these in our homes is dependent on how this part of the development process progresses.”

Every year more than 150,000 people have a stroke, and the resulting brain damage means they are the largest cause of adult disability in the UK.

Prof Siores published a paper in May edition of the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology about the work.