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.

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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.