Healthy Living

How Is Stroke Diagnosed?


How Is Stroke Diagnosed?

A stroke is often diagnosed by conducting physical examination tests and studying brain images produced during scans. Your doctor will try to find all the information regarding the symptoms of stroke. In addition, the doctor will carry out a number of tests to ascertain if you have a stroke. The following are some of the most common tests that your doctor can perform to confirm if you have a stroke:

Blood tests

Blood tests are done to determine the level of cholesterol and sugar in your blood. They also help in checking one's pulse for irregular heartbeats by undergoing blood pressure measurements.

Brain scans

Your doctor should carry out brain scans even if the physical symptoms of stroke are obvious. Brain scans will determine:

  • If the stroke is as a result of blocked arteries or burst blood vessels.
  • The part of the brain that has been affected the most.
  • How severe your stroke is.

There are tons of treatments that your doctor can recommend. However, it is important to conduct rapid diagnosis so that straight-forward treatment can be achieved. It is also recommended that you receive a brain scan within 24 hours if you witness the signs and symptoms of stroke. The following people should get quick brain scans within one hour of onset of stroke symptoms:

  • Currently taking anticoagulant drugs
  • Have low consciousness
  • If you’re on clot-bursting drugs like alteplase and early anticoagulants

CT scans

CT scans are similar to x-rays but utilize multiple images in building up a more detailed, 3-dimentional picture of the brain to help spot problematic parts. The doctor will inject a special dye into your veins to improve the clarity of CT images.

MRI scans

MRI scans rely on strong magnetic fields and radioactivity in producing a detailed image of the interior part of your body. MRI scans are effective, especially if you have complex symptoms and the location of the damaged areas are unknown. In addition, your doctor will likely to conduct MRI scans if you have just recovered from TIA. Such scans provide a detailed analysis of brain tissues. Doctors will also inject a special dye into your veins to improve the images of MRI scans.

Swallow tests

These are essential tests for all those who have had a stroke. If you cannot swallow properly, food may get into your windpipe and land into the lungs, which can lead to chest infections like pneumonia. The test involves giving the patient a couple of teaspoons of water to drink. If he/she swallows the water without getting choked, you should give him/her a half a glass to swallow. If he/she has difficulty swallowing, you should consider referring the case to a speech therapist.

Carotid ultrasound

Like MRI scans, carotid ultrasound scans will help in identifying if there is any narrowing/blockages of the neck arteries that lead to the brain. These scans involve utilizing a small probe known as a transducer in relaying high-frequency sound waves into the body. These sound waves will then bounce back. An image detailing the inside of your body will then be created.


This is another form of an ultrasound scan that is carried out to create images of the heart. This helps in assessing if you have been affected by stroke. The scan involves the use of ultrasound probe that is moved across the chest.