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Stroke

A Closer Look at Stroke: Advanced Treatments to Stop Stroke in its Tracks

In order to prevent lasting brain damage or death, strokes need to be treated as soon as possible. Advanced brain-saving and life-saving treatments can stop the stroke in its tracks if given within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms. If you find a person having a stroke, the first thing one should do is to call 911 to call for emergency help.

 

Pre-hospital Treatments

Once paramedics arrive, a number of treatments may be employed prior to reaching the hospital in order to minimize damage to the brain. Such treatments include:

 

Hospital Treatments

Once transported to the hospital, physicians will determine which type of stroke the patient is having, in order to accurately provide treatment. There are two main types of strokes: blockage and bleeding. About 80 percent of all strokes are caused by a physical blockage with blood flow to the brain stopped by a combination of plaque (fatty deposits and calcium) and blood clots. Without blood flow the brain supplied by those blocked vessels has no oxygen and will die. Another kind of stroke, called a bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke, happens in about 20 percent of strokes when a weakened blood vessel breaks, causing bleeding and swelling.

When a blockage is involved, there are medications to break the clot apart, restoring blood flow and preventing damage to the brain. These medications, given through the blood stream (IV) are effective and safe only within a three hour time-frame. They can only be given when the stroke is due to a blockage and would be harmful if given during a bleeding stroke. So, before they can be started doctors need to determine the cause of the stroke - blockage or bleeding - which is done through CT or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI scan. If scans show that the stroke is a bleeding stroke, patients need to be taken immediately into surgery. If damaged blood vessels are found, the bleeding is stopped and the blood vessel repaired to limit harm to the brain. These important advances help the system work faster and better to have the best chance for success.

 

Rehabilitation

The goal of rehabilitation is for the patient to regain as many pre-attack abilities as possible. Although strokes can be cured if treated quickly enough, the brain may still have some damaged connections. Therefore, the patient may have to relearn many tasks they knew before the brain attack. Some available therapies are:

 

Hope Through Research - You Can Be Part of the Answer!

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about stroke. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:

 

For more information:

Go to the Stroke health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Sep 29, 2011

Anthony J Furlan, MD Anthony J Furlan, MD
Professor and Chair of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University

Warren R Selman, MD Warren R Selman, MD
Professor and Chair of Neurological Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University