On this page:
- •What is acute ischemic stroke?
- •What are the causes of acute ischemic stroke?
- •What are symptoms of acute ischemic stroke?
- •Is surgery necessary for acute ischemic stroke?
- •What are non-surgical treatment options for acute ischemic stroke?
- •What is a transient ischemic attack, or mini stroke?
- •How do I reduce the risk of a stroke?
The stroke occurs when an artery bringing oxygen to the brain is blocked off. This can occur because a blood clot can travel from elsewhere in the body until it lodges in a blood vessel which is smaller than the clot. Plaque, a combination of calcium, cholesterol and other substances, can also build up in the larger arteries in the neck. A piece can break off and travel further into the brain where it can lodge in a smaller vessel, blocking it off.
There are other causes of stroke, but the end result is the same: loss of function due to the brain being deprived of oxygen. In general, the larger the blood clot, the larger the amount of brain that is damaged, and the more significant the symptoms the patient experiences.
In this video, Dr. Ahuja covers the common causes of a stroke:
Common causes of a stroke
Symptoms of acute ischemic stroke include:
numbness or weakness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding or coordination problems.
In this video, Dr. Ahuja covers the warning signs of a stroke to watch out for:
Warning signs of a stroke
In many cases, a patient may not get a complete reversal of their stroke symptoms with blood clot-dissolving medication that is often prescribed for stroke patients. In these situations, additional treatments may be available to dissolve, break up, or remove the clot that is causing the stroke.
Acute stroke intervention involves passing a catheter from an artery in the patient’s groin up to the head and under a specialized x-ray identifying the clot where it is blocking off the blood flow to the brain. Essentially, this is a procedure to remove a blood clot that may cause an ischemic stroke.
Dr. Ahuja is specially trained in this type of treatment that is offered at very few hospitals. These innovative treatments for acute ischemic stroke offer options to patients who may otherwise be severely disabled or even die from the stroke and its complications.
A medication called Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) can be introduced into the patient’s vein. This medication can travel through the patient’s body and help to dissolve the blood clot in the patient’s body that is triggering the stroke. tPa is approved for strokes less than 3 hours old and in some cases the treatment window may be extended out further. The sooner the clot is dissolved, the quicker normal blood flow can be reestablished and the smaller the stroke will be.
That’s why we say, “Time is brain”. If you or a loved one experience the symptoms of a stroke, call 9-1-1 and go to the nearest emergency room.
A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, occurs when the brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen and the patient develops stroke symptoms but these resolve within 24 hours. This is sometimes referred to as a “mini stroke”.
A TIA is a warning sign that a full stroke is likely. The symptoms are the same as a full stroke. These include the drooping of one side of the face, numbness or weakness in one arm, one leg, or the arm and leg on the same side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding or a combination of these symptoms.
A TIA or mini stroke is an emergency. Call 9-1-1 immediately. It is impossible to tell at the onset if it is a TIA or a complete full stroke. Do not delay.
The best way to reduce the risk of a stroke is to reduce the number of modifiable risk factors.
Modifiable risk factors of a stroke include:
- High cholesterol
- Certain heart conditions
Non-modifiable risk factors for a stroke include:
- Age (older people have more risk)
- Family history
- Gender (men and women after menopause are at greater risk)
For more information about reducing your risk factors for stroke, see your family doctor, review information from the American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org, or visit the National Stroke Association website at www.stroke.org.