Different treatment is required for each type of stroke so a rapid diagnosis will make treatment more straightforward.
Strokes are usually diagnosed by studying images of the brain (brain imaging) and carrying out physical tests.
Your doctor may check for the causes of your stroke by taking blood tests to determine your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, checking your pulse for an irregular heartbeat and taking a blood pressure measurement.
Even if the physical symptoms of a stroke are obvious, brain imaging should also be carried out to determine:
- if the stroke has been caused by a blocked artery or burst blood vessel
- which part of the brain has been affected
- how severe the stroke is
- the risk of a transient ischaemic attack (mini-stroke).
Two common methods used for brain imaging are a computer tomography (CT) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. The type of scan you may have depends on your symptoms.
Source: NHS Choices, UK (Diagnosing stroke)
Last reviewed: April 2015