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Stroke Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms occur suddenly. They differ depending on the part of the brain affected. Multiple symptoms arise at the same time. Call emergency help right away. Brain tissue dies quickly when deprived of oxygen.


  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body, including the face
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting of sudden onset
  • Blurry, dimming, double vision, or no vision
  • Difficulty swallowing, talking, or comprehending others
  • Dizziness , falling, or loss of balance
  • Severe or unusual headache


Having a stroke is an emergency situation. Diagnosis includes:

  • Neurological exams
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) —a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
  • Brain and blood vessel imaging by:
    • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the brain
      • This test helps doctors identify hemorrhagic versus ischemic stroke.
    • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the brain
    • Ultrasonography—a test that uses sound waves to examine the brain
  • Blood tests especially homocysteine, prothrombin time , and other coagulation tests

Some tests may include:

  • Arteriography (angiography)—a catheter is placed in a blood vessel in the groin and threaded up to the brain; to show arteries in the brain
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)—shows brain blood vessels by mapping blood flow
  • CT angiogram (CTA)—this test uses a CT scanner and can give images of the blood vessels inside the brain, after a dye is injected into the veins
  • Functional MRI—shows brain activity by picking up signals from oxygenated blood
  • Doppler ultrasound —shows narrowing of the arteries (carotid and vertebral) supplying the brain; evaluates flow of blood in brain
  • Echocardiography —a test that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart; to show if the clot comes from one of the heart's chambers

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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