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Stroke Evaluations and Diagnostic Tests at UPMC Altoona

The UPMC Altoona Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center focuses on the quick assessment and diagnosis of strokes.

The national standard for treating stroke requires that patients have a CT scan within 20 minutes of getting to the hospital. Our team is often able to diagnose a stroke in even less time.

Contact the Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center

To make an appointment for outpatient stroke care, call 814-889-3930.

We are located in Building E3 on UPMC Altoona's campus.

Treating a Stroke

A person who's had a stroke should be brought to a hospital, where health care professionals trained in stroke care can monitor and treat them. It's vital to diagnose and treat a stroke as quickly as possible.

If someone has an ischemic stroke, their doctor will give them medicines to dissolve blood clots, thin the blood to prevent additional clots, and to stop the chain reaction of stroke damage. Occasionally, a surgeon will use a catheter to access and remove a large blood clot in the brain.

If someone has a hemorrhagic stroke, they may need a combination of drugs and, possibly, surgery. Medications will include drugs to ensure blood is clotting normally and to prevent or reverse brain swelling. Surgery may be needed to remove blood and decrease pressure on the brain or to repair ruptured blood vessels.

Stroke Risk Factors

The UPMC Altoona Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center works in the community to raise awareness about strokes and to help people learn about their risk of having a stroke.

You're at risk of having a stroke if you:

  • Have a personal or family history of stroke and heart disease
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Are obese
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke
  • Have an erratic heart rate
  • Have an inactive lifestyle
  • Are 55 or older
  • Are male
  • Are African American

Tests to Diagnose Stroke

At the UPMC Altoona Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center, we offer a comprehensive approach to stroke testing. This lets our doctors quickly learn if a person is having a stroke and start treatment right away.

Some of the tests we use to assess stroke include:

National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale

This quick NIH exam helps doctors learn how severe a stroke is by looking at factors such as:

  • Language
  • Eye movement
  • Weakness
  • Awareness level

Brain scans

CT scans and MRIs show the location and type of stroke.

Tests to show blood flow and clots

Imaging scans to help doctors pinpoint bleeding sites in the brain include:

  • An ultrasound of the carotid artery.
  • Transcranial doppler.
  • MRA or conventional angiogram.

Doctors may also use the following to look for bleeding or clotting disorders:

  • Blood tests.
  • EKGs or echocardiograms of the heart to look for blood clots that can travel to the brain.

After these tests show the type and location of the stroke, our team can design a treatment plan and start work immediately.

Learn More About Strokes