Apple's FaceTime 'saved woman's life' during stroke

The health benefits of the Apple Watch have been touted repeatedly, but it's the use of FaceTime on an iPhone that reportedly saved one New York woman's life after having a stroke.

Opokua Kwapong was using FaceTime with her sister Adumea Sapong, who lives in Manchester, England, when Adumea noticed that her older sister "didn't look right," according to the BBC, which first reported the news.

Mrs. Sapong was also concerned that her sister's speech was slurred.

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The 58-year-old Kwapong had woken up from an afternoon nap to receive the call from her sister and did not realize how bad her situation had become.

"My sister looked at me and said she could see that my face didn't look right," Ms. Kwapong said, according to the BBC. "She also said that I was slurring my words, but I thought she was just fussing and I didn't believe her."

Sapong said, "When I called Opokua she said that she'd not been feeling well and had been feeling tired and was also having some difficulty walking. I said, 'Perhaps you need to take some aspirin.' She tried to pick up a glass of water and wasn't able to. Then I noticed on the FaceTime video call that her face was drooping. I told her she needed to hang up and immediately see a doctor."

Sapong conferenced in one of her other sisters, who is a doctor, who confirmed what Mrs. Sapong had noticed – Kwapong's speech was slurred. Both told Kwapong to call for help right away.

After being scanned at the hospital, she was diagnosed with having a clot on her brain, which has left her paralyzed on her left side.

Ms. Kwapong credits the Apple technology, which allows you to video chat with other FaceTime-supported devices, as aiding her. "There is no doubt that FaceTime saved my life," she said.

"If my sister had not noticed that something was not right, then things could have been so different," she added in the interview with the BBC. "Not only did technology save my life, it now also allows me to live my life. I rely a lot on video conferencing as I'm not able to travel as much as I did previously for my work."

FaceTime was introduced by Apple as part of iOS 4 in 2010 by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in conjunction with the iPhone 4. Devices that support the technology include iOS devices and Apple computers.

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According to the American Heart Association, a stroke is defined as a "brain, spinal cord, or retinal cell death attributable to ischemia, based on neuropathological, neuroimaging, and/or clinical evidence of permanent injury." When a stroke occurs, blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, either via a clot (ischaemic strokes) or damage to the brain cells that cause them to die due to bleeding (haemorrhagic strokes).

Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA, is often known as mini-strokes or a warning stroke. They are temporary blockages of blood flow to the brain, but do not cause permanent damage. One in three adults have had symptoms that are consistent with TIA, according to a survey done by the American Heart Association.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 140,000 people dying each year. It is also the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S., with approximately 795,000 people suffering a stroke every year, according to StrokeCenter.org.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia