A stroke occurs suddenly, but are situations when the stroke occurs over hours. In the beginning, the stroke could manifest in a mild way, and only after a few hours can become obvious, producing total numbness of the limbs to one side of the body.
Also, symptoms are different depending of what caused the stroke.
In time, more changes could appear, as modifications in walking, balance, thinking, behaviour, this group of symptoms being labeled multi-infarct dementia.
Time is always essential when we discuss about a stroke, and this is the reason why the diagnosis must be done as soon as possible. Here are two different types of stroke, the first one being caused by a blood clot- so called ischemic stroke- and the second one being caused by a bleeding- hemorrhagic stroke-.
Differential diagnosis is decisive because the medicine given for an ischemic stroke could be life-threatening if the stroke is hemorrhagic.
To determine if the stroke it was made by a blood clot or by bleeding it is necessary to be done a computed tomography scan of the brain. Another type of test is magnetic resonance imaging, which is designed to quantify the amount of damage of the brain. Also, is better to be done some very important tests that can provide us informations about possible heart problems, as arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation, one of these tests being EKG.
Blood checkings are also necessary because they could tell to the MD what kind of treatment is the best for the patient and can prevent a wrong diagnosis, being well known the fact that some heart diseases have similar symptoms. These blood tests are: complete blood count, blood sugar test, electrolytes checkings, tests of kidneys and liver functions, and prothrombin time- to determine the time of blood clotting-.
If the doctor will consider necessary, more tests should be done as: carotid ultrasound/Doppler scan, a medical test which is intended to show the blood flow through the artery. Other tests are magnetic resonance angiogram, CT angiogram and carotid angiogram. If the stroke was determined by a heart malfunction it is recommended an echocardiogram, or a telemetry test, or a Holter monitoring. Because many people which had a stroke also have coronary artery disease it is necessary that risk factors for a heart illness to be assess.
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