Emergency care will be needed. The goal is to break up the clot and restore blood flow as quickly as possible. Restoring blood flow will halt more damage to the brain. The clot may be broken up or removed with medicine or procedure.
A medicine called tPA can quickly dissolve blood clots. It will restore blood flow and increase the chance of a full recovery. The treatment needs to be given within 3 to 4 hours of the start of stroke symptoms. This is why it is important to get medical care as soon as symptoms start.
Medicine called blood thinners may also be given. It can stop new clots and slow or stop the growth of clots that are already there.
Endovascular procedures can deliver treatment straight to the area. It may be needed for clots that are large, block a large area, or don't respond to medicine. A catheter (tube) is passed through blood vessels until it reaches the blocked artery. Once there the doctor may:
Place a mesh tube called a stent to prop open the blood vessel—may also release medicine to stop clots from forming
Early treatment can prevent long term problems. A treatment plan will be made to prevent future strokes.
Damage caused by the stroke cannot be reversed. Long term effects will depend where the brain injury happened and how much was damaged. Therapy may be needed to regain skills or adapt to changes. Rehabilitation may include:
Physical therapy—to improve movement
Occupational therapy—to help with daily tasks and self care
Speech therapy—to improve swallowing and speech
Psychological therapy—to address behavioral changes and provide support
The risk of stroke can be lowered by:
Managing chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise
Eating a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
Effects of stroke. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/stroke/effects-of-stroke. Accessed January 13, 2021.
Ischemic strokes (clots). American Stroke Association website. Available at: American Stroke Association website. Available at: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/types-of-stroke/ischemic-stroke-clots#.Vk3ipE2FPIU. Accessed January 12, 2021.
Long-term management of stroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/long-term-management-of-stroke. Accessed January 12, 2021.
Medelson SA, Prabhakaran S. Pace of progress in stroke thrombolysis: are hospitals running to stand still? Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2017;10(1):e003438.
Neuroimaging for acute stroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/neuroimaging-for-acute-stroke. Accessed January 12, 2021.
Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/stroke-acute-management-1. Accessed January 12, 2021.
1/18/2017 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/cardiovascular-disease-possible-risk-factors: Emdin CA, Odutayo A, Wet al. Meta-analysis of anxiety as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Am J Cardiol. 2016;118(4):511-519.
Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 1/27/2021
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