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Treatment for Acute Stroke - St. Cloud Hospital

Ambulance stroke emergency

Stroke can strike anyone, at any time. The best chance for survival and to minimize disability is to recognize the symptoms and call 911. 

Treatments for acute stroke have made significant strides over the past several years.

Current treatments include medication, endovascular treatments and surgery.

Medications to Treat and Prevent Stroke

Alteplase

Alteplase is the only FDA-approved drug for the treatment of acute ischemic strokes. It is considered the first line of treatment for acute ischemic stroke but it must be administered within a 3-hour window from the onset of symptoms to work best. Alteplase is administered into the vein, usually in the arm, then the medication travels through the blood stream until it reaches the blockage.The medication then works to dissolve the clot.

Alteplase is often referred to as the "clot buster" for its ability to dissolve blockages in blood vessels and restore blood flow in the brain.

If patients are not candidates for Alteplase or do not arrive within three hours may still benefit from specialized procedures to remove the blood clots in the brain, clear its delicate blood vessels of blockages and repair other cerebrovascular abnormalities.

The choice of medication for stroke depends on you prescribed medications that are used to help treat and prevent ischemic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes are not treated with the medications listed below, but rather with medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol.

Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet Medicines

Anticoagulants and antiplatelets are medicines that help treat or prevent blood clots and can help prevent serious medical problems, like heart attack or stroke.

Normally, blood clotting keeps the body from losing too much blood from wounds. However, blood clots in your blood vessels can cause problems if they block the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrition to a part of your body.

Some clots may form in the heart or the brain. Others may form somewhere else, like the leg, and then travel to another part of the body, like a lung.

You may be at higher risk for blood clots if you:

  • Have had a heart attack or stroke
  • Have an artificial heart valve
  • Have a certain kind of irregular heartbeat
  • Have a blood problem that makes your blood clot too easily
  • Are on bed rest for a long time, like a
  • Have had certain types of surgery

These medicines may be given into a vein (IV), as a shot just under the skin, or as a tablet you take by mouth. The right amount and type of anticoagulant or antiplatelet can prevent many problems.

Statin Medicines

Statins are a group of medicines used to lower cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Diet and exercise can also lower cholesterol but sometimes not enough. Statins may be used alone or with other medicines, usually when changes in your diet and exercise have not lowered your cholesterol level.

Endovascular Treatments

Endovascular treatments are a collection of very effective, minimally invasive procedures that treat and aid in the diagnosis of cerebrovascular conditions.

Intra-arterial Alteplase
The intra-arterial method of delivering Alteplase to the clot can expand the window of treatment opportunity up to six hours. In this minimally invasive treatment for stroke, the interventional physician threads a catheter into the patient's femoral artery in the groin and threads it up to the site of the blockage in the brain. The physician then delivers the medication directly to the site of the clot, which then works to dissolve it.

Thrombectomy
A thrombectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove a blood clot (thrombus) from a vessel. The thrombus blocks blood flow and may cause a stroke if the circulation is not restored promptly. If you have an ischemic stroke (stroke caused by a blood clot in your brain) doctors can sometimes do a procedure called a thrombectomy to remove the clot.

A doctor threads a catheter (thin, hollow tube) through an artery in your groin up to your brain. Once the catheter is in place, the doctor uses a tiny mechanical device to break up or remove the clot.

Among the innovative endovascular procedures our specialists perform are:

  • Clot retrieval devices
  • Carotid angioplasty for carotid stenosis
  • Embolization and coiling of aneurysms
  • Balloon angioplasty for vasospasm
  • Intra-arterial medications for vasospasms

Endovascular SuiteSt. Cloud Hospital's endovascular operating room is the first of its kind in Central Minnesota and is used to perform complex heart and vascular procedures. Its advanced imaging technology can scan patient's vascular anatomy and reconstruct it into 3D images.

Learn more about our stroke/vascular neurology services.

Surgery

St. Cloud Hospital also provides neurosurgical services for stroke patients. Qualified neurosurgeons provide the following services for stroke patients:

  • Aneurysm clipping
  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Cerebrovascular malformations
  • Hypervascular tumors
  • Intracerebral hemorrhagic strokes

Related Locations

Hear from our patient

“It is so important to be treated as soon as possible if having a stroke,” said Kathryn, 50, who had awakened with a blinding headache a few days before her medical emergency in September 2012. Kathryn, from Annandale, made a nearly full recovery. “I don’t think it could’ve been any faster. The care at St. Cloud Hospital was excellent and having Dr. Suri’s expertise is such a blessing,” Kathryn said.

Watch a video of Dr. Suri, interventional neurologist, explaining the capabilities of our specialized endovascular operating suite.