Trained medical staff need to evaluate the patient's condition. Some signs are only visible with hospital equipment, so appropriate medical care is important, which may include:
Assessing vital signs and testing brain function for signs of immediate stroke. Initial assessment includes some quick tests to help determine if cranial nerves are intact, vision is normal, muscles have strength and speaking and thinking seem normal. Heart rate, temperature and blood may also help to provide an overall picture of what is happening.
Checking the blood flow and tissue within the brain tissue may be important to determine the cause of a TIA or any brief symptoms of stroke. These images can be seen using an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computerized tomography (CT) scan. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is often helpful. The main artery leading from the heart to the brain, called the carotid artery, may also be checked for signs of stiffening or blockage.
Assessing medical history and risks of cardiovascular disease, along with an evaluation of blood chemistry, can help determine the appropriateness of medication to prevent blood clots or a procedure to remove fatty deposits (plaques) from the arteries that supply blood to brain (carotid endarterectomy).
Referring a patient to a specialist is sometimes appropriate. When a TIA occurs in a young person and there are no clear risk factors for stroke, the patient may be sent to a neurologist for special testing to rule out vasculitis, carotid artery dissection and other types of injury or infection.