Stroke Treatment

Overview

A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain stops or is disrupted, causing brain cells to die. When the brain loses blood or oxygen even for a few minutes, it can cause a loss of brain function and serious life-long issues with speech, movement, thinking and body control. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is  the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.

If a stroke occurs,  damage can be reduced, and future strokes prevented, if treatment is sought as soon as possible. The most important part of stroke treatment is getting it fast. acronym “FAST” is an easy way to remember the main symptoms to be aware of in order to help someone who may be having a stroke:  face drooping, arm weakness or speech difficulty.  If any of these symptoms are present, the “t” stands for time to call 911.

Once under the care of a medical team, and diagnosis confirmed, a patient will receive emergency stroke treatment, which may include breathing support and IV fluids; medications to break up blood clots; medications and therapies to reduce brain swelling and protect the brain; and brain surgery to remove clots, reduce pressure or repair bleeds.

Sometimes, treatments may be given before a stroke happens, such as to patients with conditions that put them at risk for having a stroke. Preventive stroke treatments include blood-thinning and cholesterol-lowering medications (among others), and surgical procedures such as carotid endarterectomy to aid normal blood flow, and left atrial appendage closure to prevent clots in atrial fibrillation patients.
 

Tests, Treatments and Procedures