Diagnosing stroke usually begins with a healthcare professional asking questions concerning what happened and when the possible stroke symptoms began. A doctor making a stroke diagnosis will also typically review the patient's medical history and conduct a physical exam (including a short neurological exam). Tests used for diagnosing stroke may include blood tests, a CT scan, an MRI, a carotid Doppler ultrasound, and a cerebral angiography.
Diagnosing Stroke: An Introduction
In order to make a stroke diagnosis, a healthcare provider will usually begin by asking a number of questions (known as the medical history) and perform a physical exam. If the healthcare provider believes that a person has had a stroke, he or she may order tests. After the doctor has made a stroke diagnosis, he or she may recommend other tests to help determine a stroke cause.
Diagnosing Stroke Begins With a Medical History and Physical Exam
When a possible stroke patient arrives at a hospital, a healthcare professional will first ask the patient or a companion what happened and when the possible stroke symptoms began. He or she will also ask questions about stroke risk factors, such as:
- Any history of cigarette smoking
- A transient ischemic attack (TIA or "mini-stroke")
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
The healthcare provider will then typically perform a physical exam, including a short neurological examination looking for stroke signs and symptoms. If the healthcare provider believes that a person has had a stroke, he or she will order tests to confirm the stroke diagnosis.