Diagnosing A Stroke

Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses stroke diagnosis.

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Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses stroke diagnosis.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist

Duration: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Stroke is a treatable condition. The treatment for stroke is much more effective if it’s given early.

If patients can recognize the warning signs of stroke and act early, the outcomes are better. The hallmark of stroke is the sudden onset of symptoms, and there are five major symptoms that people should be aware of.

Those are the sudden onset of numbness or weakness affecting the face or the extremities; the sudden onset of speaking difficulty; the sudden onset of difficulty with vision, double vision or loss of vision, for example; the sudden onset of severe headache; the sudden onset of imbalance, sometimes dizziness experienced by patients.

The diagnosis of stroke is made first off by a physician taking a history and examining the patient. In the situation of a stroke, this is usually done very rapidly. This will be followed quickly by a CT scan or a CAT scan of the brain, possibly blood tests, and possibly a cardiogram.

The initial severity of the stroke will often determine whether the patient will recover or not. However, with modern treatments and ongoing rehabilitative supportive care, patients can recover quite well from initially severe strokes.

Once the patient has been assessed in the emergency room, a diagnosis is then made as to the type of stroke, and whether or not the stroke is treatable. This can only be done in an emergency room. Subsequent decisions about treatment will be made by a physician and the patient or patient’s family, and these need to be made rapidly.

If patients have symptoms of stroke, they should seek immediate medical attention. If they’re not having symptoms, but simply have questions about stroke, warning signs and risk factors, they should speak to their family doctor.

Presenter: Dr. Dean Johnston, Neurologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Neurologist

Video Quiz ( 27 participated.)

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:


Patients who have strokes are treated with effective medications however, the earlier the treatment the better the outcomes typically are.


There are 5 major symptoms of stroke that include: sudden onset of numbness/weakness in face or limbs, difficulty speaking, vision problems, headaches, and imbalance.


A CT scan is necessary to determine what type of stroke the patient is having and what treatment options are best.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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