Stroke - Topic Overview
For an ischemic stroke, treatment focuses on restoring blood flow to
the brain. If you get to the hospital right away after symptoms begin, doctors
may use a medicine that dissolves blood clots. Research shows that this
medicine can improve recovery from a stroke, especially if given within 90
minutes of the first symptoms.1 Other medicines may be
given to prevent blood clots and control symptoms.
hemorrhagic stroke can be hard to treat. Doctors may do
surgery or other treatments to stop bleeding or reduce pressure on the brain.
Medicines may be used to control blood pressure, brain swelling, and other
After either kind of stroke and after your condition is stable, treatment shifts to
preventing other problems and future strokes. You may need to take a number of
medicines to control conditions that put you at risk for stroke, such as high
blood pressure or atrial fibrillation. Some people need to have a
surgery to remove
plaque buildup from the blood vessels that supply the
brain (carotid arteries).
The best way to get
better after a stroke is to start
stroke rehabilitation (rehab). The goal of stroke rehab is to help you
regain skills you lost or to make the most of your remaining abilities. Stroke
rehab can also help you take steps to prevent future strokes. You have the
greatest chance of regaining abilities during the first few months after a
stroke. So it is important to start rehab soon after a stroke and do a little
After you have had a
stroke, you are at risk for having another one. But you can make some important
lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of stroke and improve your overall
- Manage high blood pressure or high cholesterol by working with your doctor.
- Manage diabetes. Keep your blood sugar levels within a target range.
- If your doctor recommends taking aspirin or a blood thinner, take it.
- Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
- Don't smoke or allow others to smoke around you.
- Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight makes it more likely you will develop high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes. These conditions make a stroke more likely.
- Do activities that raise your heart rate. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish, and foods that are low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.