Home Cardiovascular Disease Stroke - Diagnosis & Treatment

Stroke - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is stroke diagnosed?

Before a stroke can be treated, diagnostic tests must be performed. Health care providers must find out what kind of stroke it is to treat it correctly. A person thought to be having a stroke will have a physical and neurological exam, blood tests, and one or more imaging tests, including:

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How is stroke treated?

Strokes caused by blood clots can be treated with clot-busting drugs such as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). tPA must be given within 3 hours of the start of a stroke to be effective. A CT scan must be done first to make sure that a stroke is not caused by bleeding in the brain. This is why it is so important for a person having a stroke to call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital fast. In some centers, tPA may be injected directly into a blocked blood vessel in the brain for up to 6 hours after a stroke; this is done by specialized doctors during angiography.

Other medicines are also used to treat and to prevent stroke. Anticoagulants such as warfarin and antiplatelet agents such as aspirin interfere with the blood's ability to clot and can play an important role in preventing a stroke.

Procedures to open blocked blood vessels leading to the brain are sometimes used to treat or prevent stroke. For example, carotid stenting is a procedure using angiography for guidance to insert a special metal mesh tube called a stent in a narrowed neck artery and prop it open to eliminate blockage. Carotid endarterectomy is the surgical removal of fatty deposits clogging the carotid artery in the neck that could lead to a stroke. For bleeding (hemorrhagic) stroke, surgical treatment may include placing a metal clip at the base of an aneurysm or removing abnormal blood vessels.

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Next: Stroke Rehabilitation & Prognosis

Filed in Cardiovascular Disease > Stroke