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Tests and treatment

A range of assessments will be carried out throughout your stay in hospital by the team. These tests and investigations will:

  • confirm that your symptoms were caused by a stroke and not another condition which gives similar symptoms
  • confirm the type of stroke you have had and to determine the most appropriate treatment for you
  • establish any possible causes for your stroke

The following are some of the investigations, which may be offered to you. You are not likely to have ALL of these as your doctors will decide which ones are most appropriate for you. If you are unsure what maybe involved please ask a member of the medical or nursing staff.

Blood pressure monitoring

High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke. Your blood pressure will be measured regularly in the hours and days immediately after your stroke.

Blood tests

These can be used to check for certain conditions which may have contributed to your stroke, e.g. diabetes, cholesterol level.

Chest x-ray

This looks for underlying conditions such as heart or chest problems.

Electrocardiogram

This test measures the rhythm and activity of your heart.

Cardiac monitor

The cardiac monitor is a visual display that allows staff to continually observe your heart's rhythm. This helps to identify and start any necessary treatment.

CT (Computed Tomography) Scan

A scan of the brain which can help find out what kind of stroke you have had, and the part of the brain affected. It is also used to exclude other types of illness which may have similar symptoms to a stroke.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

This is another type of scan, which gives a more detailed picture than a CT scan. It may be requested after you have had a CT scan.

Carotid Ultrasound Scan (Doppler)

This is used to find out whether there has been a narrowing of the blood vessels in the neck, which supply blood to the brain. This narrowing is called stenosis and can be a cause of stroke.

Echocardiogram

This may be used to test for any heart problems that may have contributed to your stroke.

The following are some of the treatments you may be given whilst you are in hospital

Thrombolysis (Dissolving Blood Clots)

Thrombolysis dissolves blood clots which stop blood going round your bodyand is effective in treating a recent stroke that is due to a blood clot. Thrombolysis dissolves some blood clots, but not all of them. This is because clots are different sizes. Thrombolysis treatment must be started within a specific time from the start of the initial signs of a stroke. The sooner treatment with thrombolysis is started, the better the chance of a good recovery from your stroke.

Surgery

If you have had a haemorrhagic stroke you may need to have an operation. This could mean you have to be transferred to another hospital specialising in this sort of surgery.

Carotid endarterectomy (An operation to clear blockages in the artery)

On either side of the neck are two large blood vessels, called the carotid and vertebral arteries, which carry blood to the brain. These arteries separate into the cerebral arteries and, from there, the blood travels along smaller and smaller arteries until it reaches all parts of the brain.Carotid endarterectomy is an operation to clear the blockages in the artery. It is a well established procedure and research shows if you have severe narrowing, this procedure can halve your risk of having another stroke in the next five to eight years.

Carotid stenting (angioplasty)

This small operation is carried out under local anaesthetic. A metal mesh (stent) is inserted into the artery to help maintain the blood flow and prevent recurrence of stenosis.

Artificial feeding

If you have swallowing problems you may require artificial feeding. A tube is passed down your throat (nasogastric tube) (NG) to allow supplementary feeding. If the problems continue for longer than a few weeks a gastrostomy tube (or PEG), a flexible fine hollow tube, may be recommended. This will be put in place by an endoscope. Artificial/supplementary feeding may be used less if your swallowing improves and it is not always forever. Your treatment is not suitable for everyone and your doctor or nurse can explain this to you.

Antiplatelets and anticoagulant therapy (preventing blood clots)

These drugs help prevent blood clots, which can sometimes block blood vessels and cause a stroke.

Antihypertensives ( helping to lower blood pressure)

This group of drugs helps to lower blood pressure. They all work in slightly different ways.

Cholesterol lowering medication

These are a group of drugs that can reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. They do this by reducing your cholesterol level, e.g. Simvastatin and Atorvastatin.

Antidepressants

This group of drugs helps relieve symptoms of low mood and depression following your stroke

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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