physio at TSSS Holland on Sea

Stroke Information

Understanding stroke and TIA

A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed. It is an emergency and you must phone 999 for an ambulance and urgent medical attention. There is a range of treatments for different types of strokes, so the quicker help arrives, the better the chance of recovery.

You can recall the main signs and symptoms of a stroke or Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) by remembering the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.

Transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ‘mini-stroke’ has similar symptoms to a stroke but these symptoms are resolved faster and the person usually will get better within 24 hours. The TIA may be a warning sign of a more serious stroke and always requires further immediate medical attention.

Being diagnosed with stroke and TIA

A rapid diagnosis of stroke is important to understand what caused the stroke, what damage has been done and what immediate medical treatment is needed. A scan will be carried out as soon as possible after admission to determine what type of treatment is needed in the first instance.

Blockages: A blood clot can block a blood vessel in the brain. This is called a thombus or an embolus.

Leaks: Blood vessels can become thin or weak and begin leaking. This is called a haemorrhage.

A brain scan will be carried out to determine what type of stroke has occurred and the correct treatment needed.

Heart and blood vessel tests

Further tests on the heart and blood vessels might be carried out later to confirm what caused the stroke. These may include:

Carotid ultrasonography or carotid doppler

Carotid ultrasonography uses ultrasound to examine the speed of blood flow through the carotid artery in the neck. The doctor may use a wand-like device (transducer) to send high-frequency sound waves into your neck. These pass through the tissue creating images on a screen that will show if there is any narrowing or clotting in the arteries leading to your brain. Where carotid ultrasonography is needed, it should happen within 48 hours.


Dye is injected into your carotid or vertebral artery via a catheter to give a detailed view of your arteries that’s not normally seen in X-rays.


In some cases an echocardiogram may be used to produce images of your heart. In addition, transoesophageal echocardiography (TEE) may also be used. This involves an ultrasonic probe into the foodpipe (oesophagus). Because it’s directly behind the heart, it produces a clear image of blood clots that may not get picked up by a more traditional echocardiogram.


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