Your stroke is treated based on its type and severity. The goals are to bring back blood flow, lower harm, and stop this from occurring again. Getting treated right away can lower the amount of harm. If you suspect a stroke, then call for emergency medical services right away. Emergency workers can start treating you before reaching the hospital.

For ischemic stroke, clot-busting medicine can open blood vessels and bring back blood flow to the brain. This can lower or stop harm to the brain. The earlier it is given, the better the results.

  • If care is given within four and a half hours of when stroke signs start, then clot-busting medicine may be given through IV.
  • If care is given within six hours of when stroke signs start, then intra-arterial (IA) clot-busting medicine may be used. IAs are given to the clot through a tube.

These methods are not used for hemorrhagic strokes. They are treated by trying to slow or stop the bleeding.

Once you are stable, you will need rehabilitation. The days and weeks after your stroke may be hard. It will mean working to get back or learn skills that you lost, such as talking, walking, or the use of an arm or leg. It can take days, weeks, or months. It can also last years.

To reach these goals, you will have a health care team that is made up of doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health workers. Stay in touch with your team, stick to your care plan, and go to all appointments.

Treatment involves:


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Long-term management of stroke. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated June 4, 2018. Accessed December 18, 2019.

Prabhakaran S, Ruff I, Bernstein RA. Acute stroke intervention: a systematic review. JAMA. 2015;313(14):1451-62.

Stroke. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed January 18, 2019.

Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated November 27, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2019.

Stroke treatments. American Stroke Association website. Available at: Accessed January 18, 2019.

Winstein CJ, Stein J, Arena R, et al, American Heart Association Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Clinical Cardiology, and Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research.. Guidelines for Adult Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery: A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2016 Jun;47(6):e98-e169 full-text, corrections can be found in Stroke 2017 Feb;48(2):e78 and Stroke 2017 Dec;48(12):e369.

Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardRimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated: 1/18/2019