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Stroke Health Center

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Treatment Overview

Emergency treatment

Ischemic stroke

Measures will be taken to stabilize your vital signs, including giving you medicines.

  • If your stroke is diagnosed soon enough after the start of symptoms, you may be given a clot-dissolving medicine called tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA), which can increase your chances of recovery.
  • You may also receive aspirin or another antiplatelet medicine.
  • In some cases, the clot causing the symptoms is removed with a medical device (rather than dissolved with medicine).

Hemorrhagic stroke

Treatment includes efforts to control bleeding, reduce pressure in the brain, and stabilize vital signs, especially blood pressure.

  • You will be closely monitored for signs of increased pressure on the brain. These signs include restlessness, confusion, trouble following commands, and headache. Other measures will be taken to keep you from straining from excessive coughing, vomiting, or lifting, or straining to pass stool or change position.
  • If the bleeding is due to a ruptured brain aneurysm, surgery to repair the aneurysm may be done. For more information, see Surgery.
  • In some cases, medicines may be given to control blood pressure, brain swelling, blood sugar levels, fever, and seizures.
  • If a large amount of bleeding has occurred and symptoms are quickly getting worse, you may need surgery to remove the blood that has built up inside the brain and to lower pressure inside the head.

Preventing another stroke

Your treatment will also focus on preventing another stroke. This may include:

  • Reducing high blood pressure, the most common risk factor for stroke, by making changes to your diet and taking medicines that lower blood pressure.
  • Taking aspirin or another antiplatelet medicine to prevent strokes. For more information, see Medications.
  • Controlling diabetes. Your doctor will advise you to try to keep your blood sugar levels in a target range. To do this, you may need to take oral medicines or insulin. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise will also help.
  • Getting a flu shot every year to help you avoid getting sick from the flu.

You may also need to make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating heart-healthy foods, and being more active. For more information, see Prevention.

If your carotid arteries are significantly blocked, you may need a procedure to reopen the narrowed arteries. For more information, see Surgery and Other Treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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