Why Getting Quick Stroke Treatment Is Important

Updated:May 16,2013

Quick Stroke Treatment Can Save Lives

If you’re having a stroke, it’s critical that you get medical attention right away. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. Thanks to recent medical advances, stroke treatments and survival rates have improved greatly over the last decade.

Stroke Treatment: tPA, the Gold Standard
A stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot or ruptures. A stroke caused by a clot is called an ischemic stroke; about 85 percent of all strokes in the United States are ischemic. The only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic strokes is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA, also known as IV rtPA, given through an IV in the arm). tPA works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow. If administered within three hours (and up to four-and-a-half hours in certain eligible patients), tPA may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke.
A significant number of stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment; this is why it’s so important to identify a stroke immediately.

Endovascular Device Removing Clot
Endovascular device removing the clot

Other Stroke Treatment Options
Another treatment option is an endovascular procedure* in which specially trained doctors try removing the blood clot by sending a catheter to the site of the blocked blood vessel in the brain.

Sometimes these procedures involve tPA being administered directly into the blood clot (called intra-arterial treatment) to help dissolve the blockage. In other procedures, the doctor may attempt to remove the clot. Researchers are still conducting research to determine the best clinical protocols for endovascular procedures.
 

*Note: Patients must meet certain criteria to be eligible for this procedure.

Image Courtesy of Covidien.

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