What treatments are available for ischemic strokes?
Ischemic strokes are caused by blood clots that block normal flow in brain blood vessels. If a person can be treated within three hours of their first symptoms, they benefit from intravenous tPA given to dissolve the blood clot. It has been shown that chances of complete recovery improve by 30 percent when tPA is used soon enough on the correct types of stroke. If a stroke is caused by an atherosclerotic plaque blocking a blood vessel, the patient may need a procedure to open up the vessel. If the blocked blood vessel is in the neck, they may need surgery (carotid endarterectomy) to open it. However, if the blood vessel isn’t in an area suitable for surgery, a procedure called balloon angioplasty and stent placement may be more appropriate. This procedure involves going inside the blood vessel with a small balloon, and inflating the balloon to open and dilate the blocked artery. In some cases, a small metallic tube called a “stent” is inserted to help keep the blood vessel open.