As a stroke is a medical emergency, your stroke diagnosis will most likely occur in the emergency room. There, doctors will need to determine if your symptoms are due to a stroke and not some other kind of medical emergency, such as a brain tumor.

Your doctor will most likely use the following means to determine what type of stroke you are having and where it's occurring:

Physical Examination

This will include questions about your symptoms—where they are occurring, when they began, and what you were doing when you noticed them. Questions you or a loved one should be ready to answer include:

  • personal medical history
  • family medical history of stroke, heart disease, or other cardiovascular problems
  • any head injuries

The physical examination will also include listening to your heartbeat and checking other important vessels, such as the arteries in your neck. Your doctor will also check your blood pressure.

Medical Tests

Other tests your doctor will use to determine if you're having a stroke include:

  • blood tests
  • computerized tomography
  • electrocardiogram
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • carotid ultrasound
  • arteriography
  • echocardiography
  • transesophageal echocardiography

These are all covered in more detail on the Stroke Tests page.