Thanks to advances in medicine over the past decade, more
patients than ever are surviving strokes. However, for
treatment to be successful and minimize stroke-related
disability, seeking help immediately is critical. (See “Three
simple questions that can uncover stroke.”)
Here’s a closer look at the treatment options:
- Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can be administered
via IV, or directly into the clot via a thin tube called
a catheter — a process known as intra-arterial treatment.
Considered the gold standard for treatment of ischemic strokes
(about 85 percent of strokes fall into this category), the medication
works to dissolve clots that are blocking blood flow to the
brain. Most patients will need to seek medical care within three
hours of the onset of symptoms to be eligible for this treatment.
- Clot retrievers are small mechanical devices inserted into
affected arteries, trapping clots and either removing them or
breaking them up to restore blood flow. In recent years, research
has been mixed on the effectiveness of these devices. But, as some
experts point out, this may have been because studies included
earlier generations of retrievers, which weren’t as effective.
- A combination of tPA and mechanical devices may help some patients avoid serious disability. In January,
the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that
found a dual approach using the clot-busting drug tPA and
clot retrievers helped restore functional independence in certain
stroke patients more effectively than tPA treatment alone.
- Surgical clips or coils to stabilize weaknesses in blood
vessel walls are treatment options for those experiencing a
hemorrhagic stroke, which causes bleeding in the brain.
- Balloon angioplasty and mesh screens called
stents may help open up a blocked blood vessel and prevent
a stroke from occurring in the first place.
Three simple questions
that can uncover stroke
Is someone you know having a stroke? Ask them
- “Can you smile?” One side of the face may droop.
“Can you raise both arms?” One may drift
- “Can you repeat this simple phrase?” Speech
may sound slurred or odd.
If you notice any of these stroke warning signs, call
for emergency assistance right away.
Telemedicine makes it possible for healthcare providers to “see”
patients remotely with the help of computers, cameras and even
robots. It allows local medical staff to collaborate closely with
specialists, even when they are miles apart.
Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas is always working to bring
the latest advancements to our community. Our telemedicine
opportunities are rapidly expanding with the potential to improve
care in cost-efficient ways and will help healthcare providers work
together to provide personalized care, close to home.