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​Stroke Symptoms and Diagnosis

Stroke symptoms occur suddenly, and differ depending on the part of the brain affected. Multiple symptoms generally arise simultaneously.

If you think you are having a stroke, call 911 or your local ambulance service, and get to a hospital as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Stroke

  • One-sided weakness
  • Numbness on one side of face, arm, or leg
  • Slurred or garbled speech
  • Difficulty talking to or understanding others
  • Loss of vision or difficulty seeing in one eye  
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination of arms or legs
  • Severe headache (the worst headache of your life)

Diagnosing Stroke

Tests that help doctors diagnose stroke include:

  • Neurological exams
  • Blood tests
  • Other tests to quickly determine the cause, location, and amount of damage
  • Imaging scans, such as:
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan — a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the brain.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan — a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the brain.
    • Arteriography (angiography) — shows arteries in the brain.
    • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) — creates a map of blood flow in the brain's vessels.
    • Functional MRI — shows brain activity by picking up signals from oxygenated blood.
    • Doppler ultrasound — reveals narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the brain.

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