Computerized tomography (CT) scan – CT scans use a series of X-rays to create a detailed image of your brain. A CT scan can show a hemorrhage, tumor, stroke and other conditions. There are different types of CT scans that your doctor may use depending on your situation.
Things will move quickly once you get to the hospital, as your emergency team tries to determine what type of stroke you're having. That means you'll have a CT scan or other imaging test soon after arrival. Doctors also need to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as a brain tumor or a drug reaction.
One of the most common stroke mimics is a seizure, which researchers believe account for as many as 20% of all stroke mimics. Other common stroke mimics include migraines, syncope, sepsis, brain tumor and metabolic derangement (low sodium or low blood sugar).
The only way to tell the difference between a ministroke and a stroke is by having a doctor look at an image of your brain with either a CT scan or an MRI scan. If you've had an ischemic stroke, it's likely that it won't show up on a CT scan of your brain for 24 to 48 hours. An MRI scan usually shows a stroke sooner.
Blood tests for stroke. There is no blood test that can diagnose a stroke. However, in the hospital, your doctor or nurse may do a series of blood tests to learn the cause of your stroke symptoms: Complete blood count (CBC).
You should have a brain scan soon after symptoms start, within an hour of arriving at hospital if possible. The scan can show whether the stroke is due to a clot or a bleed. There are two main types of scan used: A computed tomography or CT scan.
When stroke occurs, the blood pressure (BP) often rises because of various factors, such as psychological stress, pain, elevated intracranial pressure, urinary retention, and hypoxemia.
Diagnosis and Tests
The doctor will do some simple quick checks to test your vision, muscle strength, and ability to think and speak. Diagnostic testing consists of either a computed tomogram (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain and carotid arteries to determine the possible cause of the TIA.
In addition to the classic stroke symptoms associated with the FAST acronym, around 7-65% of people undergoing a stroke will experience some form of a headache. People describe a stroke-related headache as a very severe headache that comes on within seconds or minutes.
Stroke symptoms usually come on suddenly -- in minutes to an hour. There is usually no pain associated with the symptoms. The symptoms may come and go, go away totally, or get worse over the course of several hours.
Yes, you can have a stroke and not know it. A stroke's effects can be undetectable if the stroke is small or if the tissue damaged does not serve a critical function. Evidence of the stroke would show on a CT scan or an MRI of the brain, but it might not produce symptoms.
Some people have strokes without realizing it. They're called silent strokes, and they either have no easy-to-recognize symptoms, or you don't remember them. But they do cause permanent damage in your brain. If you've had more than one silent stroke, you may have thinking and memory problems.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if any of these signs of stroke appear: Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg; Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; Trouble seeing in one or both eyes; Trouble walking, dizziness, or problems with balance; severe headache with no known cause.
Typically when a person is suffering from a stroke, symptoms are abrupt and appear simultaneously. In many cases, symptoms of a stroke mimic tend to come on gradually. A head CT scan or MRI is the best way to rule out a stroke.
In the nation's emergency rooms, strokes are regularly misdiagnosed – about one in 10 cases, according to various published reports over the last decade. In many cases, the patient's mild, non-specific symptoms, such as a headache, vertigo, or inability to answer questions correctly, prompt a different diagnosis.
This can cause sudden symptoms similar to a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance, and numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs. But a TIA does not last as long as a stroke. The effects last a few minutes to a few hours and fully resolve within 24 hours.
The longer a stroke goes untreated, the more damage can be done — possibly permanently — to the brain. “If you suspect you or someone you're with is having a stroke, don't hesitate to call 911,” Dr. Humbert says. “It could save a life.”