by EBSCO Medical Review Board

A stroke needs to be diagnosed quickly. This is usually done at the hospital based on a person's symptoms and physical and neurological exams. Other tests may be done to identify the type of stroke, the part of the brain it affected, or if there is an underlying cause.

Stroke Tests


Images can identify places of bleeding, blockage, or where the problem is. These tests check the brain, blood vessels, and other structures.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can be used to check platelet, glucose, electrolyte, and cholesterol levels. It can also check blood clotting time. This can help diagnose or rule out a stroke. Some blood tests can also test how well the kidneys and liver are working.

Electrical Activity Tests

This can be tested with:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)—to measure electrical activity of the brain with electrodes placed on the head
  • Evoked response test—to measure how the brain handles sensory details
Other Tests

Your doctor may also test how well you swallow, how you react to food textures and tastes, and how you use language. Strokes can harm these parts of the brain. This will help guide the healing process.

A lumbar puncture may be done to check your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid covers and protects the brain and spinal cord. It can be tested if your doctor thinks you may have an infection or a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Tests of Your Heart

Many strokes are from heart disease. If your doctor thinks you have this, you may have more tests, such as:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)—To test the heart's electrical activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
  • Electrocardiogram —to find abnormalities in the heart muscle by highlighting places of poor blood flow
  • Holter monitor—to record your heart rhythm over 24 hours or more. It may be able to find any rhythm changes after a stroke.


Common diagnosis methods. American Stroke Association website. Available at: Accessed March 11, 2022.

Liberman AL, Prabhakaran S. Stroke chameleons and stroke mimics in the emergency department. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2017;17(2):15.

Neuroimaging for acute stroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed March 11, 2022.

Stroke. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed March 11, 2022.

Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. Accessed March 11, 2022.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2021
  • Update Date: 03/11/2022