Stroke seems to strike out of the blue, but it’s really cumulative effects that lead to stroke, and there is no way to pinpoint exactly when one might happen. However, tests can be performed to help determine if a person is at elevated risk for stroke.

  • Heart auscultation. When a doctor takes out a stethoscope and listens to your heart, he or she is performing a heart auscultation. Heart auscultation helps identify problems with heart valves or heartbeat irregularities, which can cause blood clots that lead to stroke.
  • Carotid ultrasound. Harvard Health says a carotid ultrasound can detect buildup of cholesterol-filled plaque in the carotid arteries in the neck. These arteries deliver blood to the brain, and a blockage can lead to stroke.
  • Cerebral angiography. Healthline says a cerebral angiography involves injecting a contrast medium into your blood so that imaging will clearly show blood vessels in the brain, to help identify any blockages or bleeds.
  • Electrocardiogram. An EKG monitors heart rhythm with sensors positioned on the chest to show heartbeat waves. An abnormal heart rhythm or heart rate may indicate a risk of stroke.
  • Blood pressure measurements. Blood pressure should be measured regularly, as more than two-thirds of individuals who experience a stroke have hypertension, says Verywell Health. Chronically elevated blood pressure can cause disease of the blood vessels over time, which can cause a stroke.
  • Cholesterol check. Getting cholesterol levels checked at least once every five years can help doctors identify if high cholesterol is a problem to help reduce stroke risk.

It is difficult to detect if or when a stroke will happen, but certain tests can zero in on heightened risk factors for stroke.