Emergency treatment for stroke is dependent on the type of stroke you're suffering from. Whether it is an ischemic stroke that blocks an artery, or a hemorrhagic stroke that is caused by bleeding of blood vessels around the brain, acting fast is important since every minute counts.
Ischemic Stroke: Treatment options
The treatment of an ischemic stroke can be delicate. However, if handled properly, the victim can recover. It involves restoring the blood flow to the brain as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming fatal. The doctor will commence therapy that involves clot-busting drugs within 3 hours. Remember, quick treatment will improve the victim’s chances of survival and will reduce further complications. The following are the most common medications that you may be given:
1. Aspirin: This is an immediate treatment the doctor will administer to the victim in the emergency room to minimize the likelihood of developing another stroke. Aspirin prevents blood clots from forming.
2. tPA: tPA stands for intravenous tissue plasminogen activator. It involves a tissue plasminogen. Some stroke victims can be injected with a recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, also known as alteplase. The tPA injection is normally given through the vein of the arm. This potent clot-busting drug is usually administered within 4 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.
Other procedures can also be done to the stroke victim, including:
- Delivering certain medications directly to the victim’s brain: tPA can be delivered to the affected parts of the brain by inserting a long, thin tube via an artery in the groin and thread it to the brain.
- Mechanically removing the clot: This can be done using a catheter to move a tiny device into the brain so that the clot can be physically be broken or grabbed.
- Carotid endarterectomy: This involves the removal of the plaque from the arteries.
- Angioplasty and stents: This is a delicate angioplasty procedure whereby the surgeon gains access to the carotid arteries via an artery in your groin.
Treatments focus on controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure in the brain. The doctor can also perform surgery to minimize future risk. Common treatment options include:
- Surgical clipping: This is aimed at preventing re-bleeding and bursting of the blood vessels.
- Coiling: This is a special procedure that involves the insertion of a catheter into one of your arteries in the groin. It is then guided to your brain using advanced X-ray imaging.
Other treatment options include:
- Intracranial bypass
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
The Recovery Process: Specialists who can help stroke victims
Usually, stroke recovery is not the same to every stroke victim. Depending on your health condition, your treatment team can be composed of the following:
- Neurosurgeon: a doctor who has been trained to handle brain conditions.
- Physiatrist: this is a rehabilitation doctor.
- Nurses: can also help with the recovery under the supervision of a doctor.
- Dietitians: will be beneficial in designing the most appropriate diet for you during the recovery process.
- Physical therapist: will help you with therapeutic procedures
- Occupational therapist: can help by preventing and treating injuries caused by physical impairment.
- Recreational therapist: will help you design recreational programs that will help you during the recovery process.
- Speech therapist: will help a stroke victim regain his/her speech
- Social worker: will help a victim will daily chores and emotional support
- Case manager
- Psychologist or psychiatrist: will be handy when it comes to psychological support
- Chaplain: can also provide emotional support to a stroke victim