How stroke is diagnosed  

High angle view of patient lying for MRI scan. Sick young woman is going through medical procedure. She is with eyes closed.

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced as a result of a broken or blocked blood vessel.  When this happens, your brain tissue can’t get oxygen and nutrients. This makes the brain cells damaged in minutes. Therefore it’s important to get to the emergency room right away if you think you’re having a stroke.
Here we’ll look at the signs and symptoms of stroke and how stroke is diagnosed.


Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

The following signs and symptoms stroke occur to both men and women. These are: 

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your face or in one arm or leg
  • Loss of vision, strength, coordination, sensation, or speech, or trouble understanding speech. These symptoms may get worse over time if treatment hasn’t commence.
  • Sudden dim of vision especially in one eye
  • Sudden loss of balance, sometimes along with vomiting, nausea, fever, hiccups, or trouble swallowing
  •  Severe Headache with no other cause, followed quickly by passing out.
  • Dizziness or sudden falls with no clear cause.
  • One may stumble or lose your balance.

Types of Stroke

There are two types of stroke. 

  1. Hemorrhagic stroke
  2. Ischemic stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or breaks, allowing blood to leak into the brain. 

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked or restricted by severely narrowed arteries or a blood clot.

How to diagnose stroke

How is stroke diagnosed ? One needs to know that the type of stroke must be determined for its proper treatment. Treatment for ischemic stroke is different from the treatment of a hemorrhagic stroke.

In the emergency room, your doctor may:

  1. Ask you when the symptoms of the stroke started. This is critical in determining what treatment is best for you.
  2. Get information about your medical history
  3. Do a physical exam, take your blood pressure, and listen to your heart
  4. Have certain lab (blood) tests done.
  5. Do a CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scan. This determines what kind of stroke a person has had.
  6. Study the results of other diagnostic tests that might be done.

What are the types of diagnostic tests?

High angle view of patient lying for MRI scan. Sick young woman is going through medical procedure. She is with eyes closed.

Diagnostic tests examine how the brain looks, works and gets its blood supply. Most are safe and painless. The following are tests of how to diagnose stroke. These tests include :

  • Computed Tomography (CT) or CAT scan. It uses radiation to create a picture (like an X-ray) of the brain. Doctors may inject a dye into your bloodstream to view the blood vessels in the neck and brain. It’s usually one of the first tests given to a patient with stroke symptoms. CT test results give information about the cause of stroke and the location and extent of brain injury.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This test uses powerful radio waves and a magnetic field to create a detailed image of the brain. It also shows the location and extent of brain injury. The image produced by MRI is more detailed than a CT scan, so it’s often used to diagnose small, deep injuries to the brain.
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) . In this test, the blood vessels are imaged through a magnetic resonance scanner to locate a blocked artery or to identify if a cerebral aneurysm is present. Additional advanced tests that may be done include CT perfusion, diffusion-weighted MRI or MRI perfusion.
  • Carotid Ultrasound. In this test, sound waves create detailed images of the inside of the carotid arteries in the neck. This test shows buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) and blood flow in the carotid arteries.
  • Cerebral Angiogram. In this uncommonly used test, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a small incision, usually in the groin, and guides it through the major arteries and into the carotid or vertebral artery. Then your doctor injects a dye into the blood vessels to make them visible under X-ray imaging. This test gives a picture of the blood flow through the vessels. This allows the size and location of blockages to be seen.
  • Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create detailed images of the heart. An echocardiogram can find a source of clots in the heart that may have traveled from the heart to the brain and caused a stroke.
How stroke is diagnosed

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