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    What Should I Do If I Experience Stroke Symptoms?

    Immediately call 911 if you have stroke symptoms. Stroke is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment can save your life or increase your chances of a full recovery.

    What Is the Treatment for a Stroke?

    The only FDA-approved treatment for acute ischemic (sudden onset) stroke is a thrombolytic agent or “clot buster” medication called tPA. tPA must be given within the first 3 to 4 1/2 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. Also, there are several new and experimental drugs that may stop -- and even reverse -- the brain damage associated with stroke if administered immediately after a stroke.

    Other treatments focus on preventing another stroke by treating risk factors associated with stroke such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Treatment of high blood pressure is the most important way to prevent stroke.

    Are Strokes Preventable?

    Up to 80% of all strokes are preventable. Many risk factors can be controlled before they cause problems. Some controllable risk factors include:

    To prevent stroke it is very important to take measures to lower blood pressure and cholesterol if they are elevated, control diabetes, quit smoking, get plenty of exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. People at risk for stroke and heart attack may also be treated with aspirin or similar medications, which can prevent blood clots from forming. Some people may need to undergo procedures to remove plaque from the arteries or widen the arteries to improve blood flow.

    Summary of Important Facts About Stroke

    • Stroke is the leading cause of disability.
    • Stroke is the third leading cause of death.
    • Stroke is preventable by the control of risk factors.
    • Stroke is treatable, but patients must seek immediate medical care.
    • All persons should be aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on October 12, 2015
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