Strokes: How they’re treated

Archive, May, Month

There are different kinds of strokes, presenting different challenges when doctors treat them.

A potential life-threatening medical emergency, strokes require immediate emergency intervention.

Strokes occur when the flow of oxygenated blood within the brain is disrupted.

This can happen in one of two ways — through two main categories of stroke — each with a different approach from physicians in how to treat them.

Ischemic strokes

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot travels to the brain and creates a blockage of blood flow.

Physicians must quickly reestablish blood flow.

This can be accomplished through the administration of the IV clot-busting medication tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) to dissolve the clot or through a procedure in which a stroke-trained interventional neurologist tunnels a catheter through the brain’s vascular system (with access through the groin) and removes the blood clot — a thrombectomy.

Hemorrhagic strokes

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain ruptures, leaking blood into the brain, increasing the pressure within the brain and depriving surrounding areas of oxygenated blood.

These often result from a ruptured aneurysm within the brain. While many patients may not experience the symptoms of an unruptured aneurysm, when one is detected, procedures exist for neurologist to stymie the aneurysm’s growth and safety shrink it over time.

Should one rupture, though, physician quickly react to relieve the pressure building up within the brain and work to control the bleeding.

This often requires a surgical procedure.

Lower your risk and B.E. F.A.S.T.

A specific set of risk factors exist that everyone can begin addressing now to lower the chances they’ll suffer a stroke in the future.

The McLaren Stroke Network endorses the American Stroke Association’s B.E. F.A.S.T. campaign to help recognize symptoms of strokes in yourself and those around you.

Stroke-like symptoms may present during a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, which occurs when the brain’s blood flow is temporarily blocked. Symptoms last for a few minutes and resolve themselves once blood flow is restored.