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Counties Manukau Health Stroke Service

Public Service, Cardiology, Neurology, Older People's Health


A stroke is where the blood supply to an area of the brain is interrupted, causing damage to brain cells. This happens either with a clot in the blood vessel or the blood vessel bursting. The effects of a stroke depend on where in the brain, and how big, the interruption to blood flow is. A “TIA” (or transient ischaemic attack or “mini-stroke”) is a stroke that improves completely within 24 hours (often within minutes).

Most people who have had a stroke or TIA are admitted to hospital. If the stroke has had significant physical effects you may be admitted to our Rehabilitation Unit which aims to increase your independence, prevent complications from stroke and prevent further strokes. For more information on stroke a very useful website is the New Zealand Stroke Foundation site.

Recognising a stroke: remember the memory aid FAST

F - Face: ask the person to smile and see if the face is weak or skew on one side. 
A - Arms: ask them to raise both arms and see if they are unable to raise the arm on one side. 
S - Speech: ask them to speak and see if they are unable to speak or their words are muddled or slurred. 
T - Time: call an ambulance and get them to hospital fast if you think they are having a stroke.


Referral Expectations

If you think someone is having a stroke call an ambulance to get them to hospital FAST

It is likely that a person with a stroke or TIA will be admitted to the Emergency Department for further tests and monitoring. From there, they may be admitted to the Stroke Unit (Ward 31) or another ward for further medical investigations and treatment, and assessment and therapy by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and/or speech and language therapists. Some patients with mild stroke may be discharged directly from the Emergency Department after a short stay in hospital, and will usually require a prompt outpatient appointment for investigations and follow-up.

If the stroke patient requires rehabilitation, they may be transferred to a Rehabilitation Unit. Patients who have been discharged from hospital following a stroke generally will have a stroke follow-up appointment. Please bring all your medication and any X-rays and scans you have to these clinics. You may receive ongoing rehabilitation from the Community Based Rehabilitation Team following discharge.

In hospital, most stroke patients will have blood tests, an ECG (electrocardiogram – electrical test of the heart), and a brain scan (either a CT scan or an MRI scan). Some may also require a scan of the carotid arteries in the neck, usually done with an ultrasound machine or a scan of the heart (an echocardiogram).

Some patients who have had a stroke may receive “clot-busting” treatment (r-tPA). This is only given to stroke patients who arrive promptly to hospital, and who fulfil certain criteria.  A drip containing the blood thinning agent, heparin, may be given to certain selected patients with stroke. This is a treatment that is rarely used. Some patients may also receive clot retrieval treatment. This treatment requires transfer to Auckland City Hospital to be performed.

We may recommend that a patient with a stroke have an operation to open up the carotid artery (carotid endarterectomy). This decision is made in consultation with the vascular surgeon, and, of course, the patient and their family.

Most patients will be discharged on a combination of blood thinners, blood pressure treatment and cholesterol-lowering treatment, which will reduce the risk of future strokes. After a stroke or TIA, patients should not drive for at least one month after the stroke.


There are no charges for services to public patients if you are lawfully in New Zealand and meet one of the Eligibility Directions specified criteria set by the Ministry of Health. If you do not meet the criteria, you will be required to pay for the full costs of any medical treatment you receive during your stay.

To check whether you meet the specified eligibility criteria, visit the Ministry of Health website.

For any applicable charges, please phone the Accounts Receivable Office on (09) 276 0060.

Procedures / Treatments

  • ECG - Electrocardiogram

    An ECG is a recording of your heart's electrical activity.… More

  • CT Scan - Computer Tomography

    This is a special x-ray examination which, with the help of a computer, produces cross-wise picture slices of your body.… More

  • MRI Scan - Magnetic Resonance Imaging

    What is MRI?

    Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a unique way of showing structures in the body using a strong magnetic field and harmless low energy radio waves.  NO X-RAYS ARE USED.… More

Contact Details

Middlemore Hospital

South Auckland

Middlemore Hospital
Hospital Road

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Street Address

Middlemore Hospital
Hospital Road

Postal Address

Private Bag 93311
Auckland 1640
New Zealand

This page was last updated at 1:40PM on December 17, 2021. This information is reviewed and edited by Counties Manukau Health Stroke Service.