- CT scan– this is a crucial test to confirm what type of stroke has occurred. Once it has been shown to be a haemorrhage or a blockage (infarct) the appropriate treatment can begin. Not all small blockages show up on a CT scan in the first few hours.
- Blood tests– a series of blood tests will be done in the first hours and days after stroke. This will show any underlying illness such as possible infection which can be treated, show how the blood clotting factors are working, to check the blood chemistry for trace elements such as sodium and potassium, to look for glucose levels which may indicate diabetes, blood lipids for cholesterol levels.
- Blood pressure (BP)This will be monitored to check for hypertension (high blood pressure) or hypotension (low blood pressure) Prolonged high blood pressure is a risk factor in stroke and can symptoms are not always obvious to the patient. Normal BP ranges can be found in the CHSS publication Living with high blood pressure. [pdf]
- ECG (Electrocardiograph) The heart function can affect blood supply to the brain and can be a risk factor in stroke especially if the heart beat is irregular.
- Carotid Doppler This non invasive test is not painful. It is done to check the blood vessels in the neck which supply blood to the brain. If these vessels have been partially blocked by a plaque of fatty deposits (atheroma) on the lining this can then break off causing blockage of a smaller vessel inside the brain.
- Chest X-ray Routine chest -rays are done to check for other underlying illness such as heart or lung problems
- Swallow assessment This is a simple but crucial test which should be done for every stroke patient.
Normal BP ranges can be found in the CHSS publication: Living with high blood pressure. [pdf]