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Strokes Center

Stroke Treatment

Stroke treatment
Different types of strokes require different types of treatment in emergency situations.  In fact, treatment for one type of stroke may aggravate symptoms of another type.   This is because some strokes are a result of clots, whereas others are a result of excessive bleeding.  Both causes of stroke, however, have the same potential for damaging brain cells.  This is why immediate treatment for a stroke is most important.

Ischemic stroke treatments
During ischemic strokes, blood clots prevent healthy blood flow to an artery or blood vessel.  The goal of treatment for an ischemic stroke is to open up the problem artery and dissolve the blood clot.  Some of the most common procedures and prescriptions for ischemic strokes include:

1.  Surgery to install a stent after angioplasty. A balloon is inflated in the problematic artery, thereby allowing the plaque in the artery to become more compressed.  Then, a stent is installed, which keeps the artery from getting smaller.

2.  Surgery to perform a carotid endarterectomy, in which the surgeon opens up the carotid arteries that go from your neck to your brain, and then removes the plaque that is blocking the arteries. 

3.  Prescribe aspirin or another blood-thinning drug.

4.  Prescribe tissue plasminogen activator, which is a powerful clot-destroying medication.

Hemorrhagic stroke treatments
During hemorrhagic strokes, excessive bleeding occurs due to a blood artery or vessel breaking.  Doctors want to create a clot, so as to stop the bleeding.  Common procedures include the following.

1.  Aneurysm embolization - During an embolization, a coil is pushed through a catheter that has been itself pushed into the aneurysm.  Because the coil fills the aneurysm, it causes clotting, and hence cannot affect nearby arteries.

2.  Aneurysm clip - Doctors might also clip the already burst, or likely to burst aneurysm.  The clip is applied and kept in place permanently.

3.  Surgical AVM removal - An abnormal collection of blood vessels (or, AVM for Arterio-Venous Malformation) is removed, so long as it is not too large or deep within the brain.  However, if it is possible to remove this AVM, then the risk of rupturing this AVM is eliminated.

Prevention
Taking preventative measures may mean that you never suffer from a stroke, or reduce the chances of you having one.  Whether you have never had a stroke, are susceptible to having a stroke, or are simply recovering from a stroke, these preventative measures may be able to save your life, and perhaps allow for general good health.

  • Control diabetes.
  • Control high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Don't smoke.
  • Don't use illicit drugs.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Lower your cholesterol, saturated fat and sugar intake.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage stress.
  • Take preventive medications, if prescribed. These includeanti-platelet drugs, and anticoagulants, which make clots less likely to occur, and thin the blood, respectively.

Ongoing treatment after a stroke
Following stroke treatment, you may be able to resume a normal, productive, and self fulfilling life.  If possible, staying at a loved one's house may help you make the transition from treatment to living on your own again.  However, successful recuperation depends on how much tissue was damaged.  You may have problems with the following:

  • balancing
  • breathing
  • language and speech problems
  • loss of vision and bladder function
  • swallowing
  • walking

After a stroke, you may have to relearn basic daily activities.  Thus, a supportive spouse or family can play a vital role in giving you the time and patience, emotional support, and encouragement that you require.  You may want to also see a psychologist or psychiatrist, as the emotional side effects of not being as independent as you once were, may take a toll on you.  If you are a loved one supporting a family member or spouse who has had a stroke, you can help him or her out by speaking more slowly, turning off the TV when talking, allow more conversations to be one-to-one, paying attention to the spoken and unspoken needs of the stroke victim, and remembering that your and professionals' help is vital to ensuring as effective a recovery as possible.  As a result of these different problems, your doctor may recommend several professionals to aid in your recuperation, depending on your own specific set of conditions, such as:

  • Dietitian
  • Nurse
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physical therapist
  • Psychologist or psychiatrist
  • Recreational therapist
  • Rehabilitation doctor (physiatrist)
  • Religious mentor
  • Social worker
  • Speech therapist

Strokes are serious medical conditions due their life-threatening nature, and the possibility for long-term disability.  While a person cannot control all risk factors of getting a stroke (e.g. age), he can certainly consult with his doctor to determine his own highest risk factors, and how to live a more healthy life less prone to strokes.  Even if you have a stroke, it's never too late to begin living a healthy lifestyle, and to have lifestyle changes that will make you a productive and happy stroke survivor.  

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