Treating Stroke

Because their mechanisms are different, the treatments for the types of stroke are different:

  • Ischemic stroke is treated by removing obstruction and restoring blood flow to the brain.
  • In hemorrhagic stroke, doctors introduce an obstruction to prevent rupture and bleeding of aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations.

Ischemic Stroke

Acute Treatment

  • Clot-busters, e.g., tPA
    The most promising treatment for ischemic stroke is the FDA-approved clot-busting drug tPA, which must be administered within a three-hour window from the onset of symptoms to work best. Generally, only 3 to 5 percent of those who suffer a stroke reach the hospital in time to be considered for this treatment.

Preventative Treatment

  • Anticoagulants/Antiplatelets
    Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin, and anticoagulants such as warfarin interfere with the blood's ability to clot and can play an important role in preventing stroke.
  • Carotid Endarterectomy
    Carotid endarterectomy is a procedure in which blood vessel blockage is surgically removed from the carotid artery.
  • Angioplasty/Stents
    Doctors sometimes use balloon angioplasty and implantable steel screens called stents to treat cardiovascular disease in which mechanical devices are used to remedy fatty buildup clogging the vessel.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

  • Surgical Intervention
    For hemorrhagic stroke, surgical treatment is often recommended to either place a metal clip at the base, called the neck, of the aneurysm or to remove the abnormal vessels comprising an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). Download additional information about AVM (pdf)
  • Endovascular Procedures, e.g., "coils"
    Endovascular procedures are less invasive and involve the use of a catheter introduced through a major artery in the leg or arm, guided to the aneurysm or AVM where it deposits a mechanical agent, such as a coil, to prevent rupture. Download additional information about aneurysm (pdf)