Symptoms, Test & Diagnosis
A number of different tests may be used to examine you if you have risk factors for stroke, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. They may also be used for diagnosis if you're having (or have had) a stroke.
- Computerized tomography (CT). CT scanning provides images of your brain and shows hemorrhages. More information is provided by computerized tomography angiography (CTA). In CTA, a dye is injected into your vein, and X-rays are used to create a three-dimensional image of blood vessels in your brain and neck that your doctor can examine for aneurysms, narrowing of the arteries, or blood vessel malformations.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs use strong magnetic fields to generate three-dimensional images of your brain so that your doctor can detect damage caused by an ischemic stroke. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) uses a dye injected into your veins to evaluate arteries in your brain and neck.
- Arteriography. Your doctor inserts a long, thin hose called a catheter into an artery, usually near your groin, and guides it up into your carotid or vertebral artery. Then a dye is injected through the catheter in order to provide on-screen X-ray images of your arteries.
- Carotid ultrasound. A wand-like device called a transducer sends sound waves through your neck, creating on-screen images that show any narrowing or clotting in your carotid arteries.
- Echocardiography. Another form of ultrasound, used to determine if your heart has produced emboli that may have traveled to your brain. You may need to swallow a flexible probe with a transducer attached. Because the esophagus is behind your heart, very clear images of the heart can be created.
Strokes are medical emergencies that require immediate medical attention, so it's very important to know the signs and symptoms of stroke:
- Sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion or change in consciousness
- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, loss of coordination
- Sudden, severe headache
- Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech
Symptoms of hemorrhagic stroke can also include the following:
Symptoms of stroke vary according to the location of the blockage or bleeding in the brain. For instance, if there's a blockage in the area of the brain that controls movement in the left arm, there will be weakness in the left arm or movement will be absent altogether. Strokes usually affect only one side of the body because they usually occur only on one side of the brain. Because nerves from the brain cross over to the other side of the body, damage to the left side of the brain, for instance, will create symptoms on the right side of the body.
If you think someone is in fact having a stroke:
- Call for emergency medical help immediately.
- If the person stops breathing, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- If he or she starts to vomit, turn their head to the side to prevent choking.
- Don't let the person eat or drink anything.
Don't wait to call for help. The success of most stroke treatments depends on how soon they are administered.
What Is Stroke? (VIDEO)
Your Brain Needs Oxygen
Degree of Blockage
Types of Stroke
Symptoms, Test & Diagnosis
Life After Stroke
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