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Diagnosis of stroke

A stroke diagnosis usually occurs in the emergency department of a hospital. Generally, doctors at Dignity Health can diagnose stroke based on the physical signs alone. However, your neurologist may order a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the head to determine whether the stroke is caused by bleeding or by a blood clot. Different types of stroke require different treatments.

Diagnosing stroke quickly is crucial to treatment. Strokes caused by a blood clot require administration of a thrombolytic (clot-busting) medication within two hours of onset of the event.

The most common treatments for stroke depend on the type of event:

  • Treatments for hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) include either minimally invasive or open surgery to stop the bleeding.
  • Treatments for ischemic stroke (blood clot) include an anticoagulant medication (tPA) to dissolve the clot (thrombolytic therapy), a minimally invasive procedure to remove the clot, or a combination of these procedures.
  • Treatments for all types of stroke include rehabilitation after the event, medications to treat underlying conditions that may contribute to stroke, such as high blood pressure, and lifestyle changes, such as a heart-healthy diet and exercise plan.

Providers at Dignity Health are dedicated towards helping patients and families understand strategies for stroke prevention in AZ, NV, and CA.

Preventing a stroke

Because stroke is a life-threatening emergency, you may not have many options regarding immediate stroke treatment. Your neurologist will advise you and your family about what medication or surgical procedure is necessary to treat the stroke and preserve as much brain tissue as possible.

You can reduce your risk of stroke by adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle and protecting your brain.

Your doctor at Dignity Health will recommend that you start with these stroke-prevention guidelines and strategies:

  • Wear a seatbelt, bike helmet, and other protective equipment to reduce your risk of experiencing a traumatic head injury, which increases the risk of stroke.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that keeps your cholesterol levels in check.
  • Engage in regular physical exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Promptly treat any underlying medical conditions, including high cholesterol or high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of stroke.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.

Taking care of your heart helps ensure all your blood vessels stay open and flexible. Healthy blood vessels contribute to a healthy brain, which in turn reduces the risk of stroke.

Dignity health provides emergency support, diagnosis, and treatment for people with stroke symptoms in Arizona, California, and Nevada.