Diagnosis & Treatment
Learn how strokes are diagnosed and what to do if you think you are having a stroke.
How do You Diagnose a Stroke?
Diagnosis of stroke is usually made after obtaining a clinical history and performing a neurological exam. Imaging such as CT scans and MRIs can help confirm the diagnosis.
Many conditions mimic stroke symptoms, and it is essential to differentiate between them from a stroke.
What typically happens after I call emergency services if I think I am having a stroke?
This varies by location based on a number of factors, including the availability of personnel, treatment options, and protocols. In an ideal situation, the following would happen:
- EMS providers will screen to see if you are having the symptoms and signs of a stroke and notify a nearby emergency department capable of handling strokes.
- They may want to know: when was the last time you felt well, if you are on blood thinners, if you have had recent bleeding or surgery, and when your symptoms started.
- Transfer to a nearby stroke-capable center.
- On arrival, you will be assessed.
- This may include vital signs, a CT scan, MRI, and/or blood work.
- Treatment may include a clot buster (tPA) or a procedure called mechanical thrombectomy.
- If the doctor suspects that you may be suffering from a large vessel occlusion, another type of scan called a CT Angiogram is performed, which is a dye test to see if the clot is blocking a major artery.