Stroke Treatment

Stroke treatment can vary depending on the type of stroke. Mild stroke symptoms can be prevented. After the stroke, starting a rehabilitation program may improve your mobility.

It is also important to have a team of specialists on your side. This would include not only your primary care physician, but also a cardiologist and a neurologist. The team may possibly include a physical therapist and occupational therapist, depending on your needs.

First Things First

Once you arrive at the emergency room, a team of nurses and doctors will assess you to try and determine if you did indeed have a cerebrovascular accident or CVA.

Blood pressure will be monitored and a physical exam done to determine the amount of damage and affects on cognition or speech. You most probably will have a CT or MRI of the brain to determine where the stroke is and how much damage has been done.

The main focus of stroke treatment is to try and minimize the damage done to the brain. This is done by trying to control bleeding if a hemorrhagic stroke, or restore blood and oxygen to the brain if an ischemic stroke.

brain stroke

Treatment Of Ischemic Strokes

If you have been diagnosed with an ischemic CVA, you may be treated with tPA or tissue plasminogen activator. This medication, if given within 3 hours of the stroke can "bust up" the clot in the clogged artery. Remember, ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage of an artery in the brain. Neurosurgery specialists may also perform intra-arterial therapy by using a mechanical clot disruptor or extraction device.

Clot busting medication or mechanical methods cannot be used in a hemmorhagic stroke. To do so would be life threatening.

Treatment Of Hemmorhagic Stroke

This type of stroke can be difficult to manage. If the results of the MRI or CT show blood then surgery may be indicated if the bleed is severe. This is because excess blood will press on brain structures and cause damage. The blood needs to be evacuated. If mild or moderate bleeding, the body may be capable of reabsorbing the blood over time.

If the bleeding is determined to have come from a ruptured aneurysem, then surgery usually is performed. The surgeon can clip the artery to stop the problem.

Other treatment of unruptured aneurysms include endovascular coiling. This is a procedure similar to an angiogram where a catheter is threaded up to the aneurysm. A tiny wire is coiled into the aneurysm and eventually it shrinks down over the coil.

Life After The Stroke

At this point your doctor most probably will recommend medications and lifestyle changes for post stroke treatment. For ischemia it is important to take blood thinners such as aspirin and/or Plavix, or Aggrenox which is a combination drug.

Rehabilitation programs also are put in place for physical and occupational therapy. Speech therapy and cognitive therapy are also available.

Lifestyle changes are directed towards lowering cholesterol,treating high blood pressure, improving diet and possibly exercise depending on the severity of the stroke. Physical therapy and occupational therapy can be very effective stroke treatment and help build strength in weakened muscles.

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