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The doctor takes a medical history of the person who may have had a stroke and performs a physical examination, which includes looking at blood pressure and pulse, heart and lungs, as well as a neurologic examination. The doctor may be able to tell what is going on simply from the examination.
Most of the time, however, laboratory tests and X-rays are ordered. These may be directed at ruling out other causes of the problem (such as infection or very low blood sugar) or testing for the stroke directly. These are important tests as they help determine the best treatment to be offered to help the patient and can help distinguish between a stroke type and other treatable causes that can produce stroke-like symptoms.
The emergency department doctor often consults a neurologist or member of a stroke team to help decide what treatment is best. Sometimes, because of the wide variety of symptoms that a stroke can present and the lack of a single specific test for stroke, making this decision about treatment can be difficult.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/13/2015
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