Treatment options for a stroke may include medications, surgery, and stroke rehabilitation. For people who have had an ischemic stroke, it may involve the use of thrombolytic ("clot-busting") drugs to dissolve blood clots that are blocking blood flow to the brain. Other medicine that doctors may use to treat a stroke may include anticoagulants and antiplatelets. After a stroke survivor has left the hospital, treatment often continues in the form of rehabilitation. Lifestyle changes are often part of long-term treatment following a stroke.
An Overview of Stroke TreatmentEach year, about 700,000 people in the United States have a stroke. Over 150,000 of these people die as a result, making it the third most common cause of death in the U.S. Delaying treatment can result in lasting damage to your brain, or even death. The sooner treatment begins, the better your chances of recovering.
The goals of stroke treatment are to:
- Quickly restore blood flow to the brain (in those people with an ischemic stroke) or stop the bleeding (in those people with hemorrhagic stroke)
- Continuously monitor vital signs to detect and treat stroke complications
- Make lifelong changes to reduce the chances of another stroke.
Depending on the situation and the type of stroke (ischemic versus hemorrhagic stroke), specific treatment options may include:
- Medications, such as thrombolytic ("clot-busting") drugs
- Stroke rehabilitation and lifestyle changes.
The following sections explain in detail how the treatment goals for stroke are achieved.