In hospital

When you suffer a stroke, the first stage of recovery typically begins in hospital. The type of care given varies from person to person and there are number of different tests that the medical team may decide to carry out. Some of the most common are explained below:

  • Angiogram: this will help your doctors to see if there is any narrowing of the blood vessels. A special dye is injected into the blood vessels to make them show up on an X-ray.
  • Blood glucose: glucose is the sugar that is found in the blood. If your blood glucose level is too high, it can increase the risk of stroke.
  • Blood pressure: blood pressure is checked immediately and then on a regular basis after your stroke. High blood pressure (hypertension) is the most common cause of a stroke and it has been proven that lowering blood pressure reduces the risk of repeated strokes.
  • Biochemical profile: this tests all the biochemical elements in the blood and whether they are in the normal range.
  • Carotid Doppler scan of the carotid arteries: this looks for narrowing of the blood vessels in your neck and can help the doctor decide whether further treatment is necessary. A probe is placed against your neck and sound waves are used to assess the width of your blood vessels and whether there is any fatty obstruction in them.
  • Cholesterol level check: measuring your cholesterol level involves a blood test. It usually needs to be done at regular intervals as decided by your doctor.
  • Computerised Tomography (CT) scan of the head: a CT scan is a special kind of X-ray of your brain and involves you lying down on a couch. As the machine passes around you, this test tells the doctor what sort of stroke you have had.
  • ECG / 24 hour ECG: this is a heart tracing that is set up to record your heart rate and rhythm. Sometimes this is recorded for a longer period of time to spot episodes of occasional irregular heartbeat that may be occurring.
  • Echocardiogram: a sound probe is placed against the chest wall. Sound waves are used to assess the thickness of the heart wall and measure whether the heart is functioning properly.
  • Full blood count: a blood test that measures the number of red and white blood cells in your blood and identifies any abnormalities, such as anaemia.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Magnetic Resonance Angiogram (MRA) scan: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can provide a more detailed brain scan if required and the MRAngiogam can show up the main blood vessels in the brain. This can help the doctor to decide whether any further treatment and intervention is needed.
  • Plasma Viscosity (PV): this looks at the number of cells in a given volume of blood, so that your doctor can assess whether your blood is too thick and therefore has difficulty in flowing through your blood vessels.
  • Thrombolysis: a clot busting treatment that may be suitable for patients diagnosed with a stroke within four hours of onset.
  • Thyroid function: the thyroid gland is situated in the front of the neck and produces a hormone that controls your rate of metabolism, which is the way your body uses food for energy. If you have too much thyroid hormone in your blood, your pulse may become fast and irregular which will increase the risk of suffering a second stroke.