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Every second counts. Diagnosing and treating stroke within the first 4.5 hours of recognized stroke symptoms can minimize the effects of a stroke.
Ischemic strokes are caused by a blocked artery in the brain. A ruptured blood vessel causes a hemorrhagic stroke. Treatment for ischemic stroke is different from treatment for a hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic strokes may be treated with a clot-busting drug, called alteplase, or tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA). It’s extremely important to receive a correct diagnosis before treatment begins. For you to receive alteplase (t-PA), a doctor must diagnose your stroke as an ischemic stroke and treat you within 4.5 hours of the onset of symptoms. If more than 4.5 hours passes, alteplase (t-PA) can’t be given. In the emergency room, your doctor or stroke emergency team may:
Diagnostic tests examine how the brain looks, works, and receives its blood supply.
CT (computed tomography) or CAT scan uses radiation to create a picture (like an X-ray) of the brain. It is usually one of the first tests given to a patient with stroke symptoms. CT test results provide valuable information about the stroke, including location and extent of brain injury.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a large magnetic field to produce an image of the brain. Like the CT scan, it shows the location and extent of brain injury. The image produced by an MRI is sharper and more detailed than a CT scan, so it’s often used to diagnose small, deep-brain injuries.
CTA (computed tomographic angiography) is a CT scan that uses a special intravenous contrast material (dye) to look for abnormalities such as an aneurysm.
Acute immediate treatment provided by a trained stroke team can help keep the amount of brain injury to a minimum.
When someone has a stroke, he/she are at risk of another. Once the medical team identifies what caused the stroke, they may prescribe treatments or procedures to reduce the risk of a second stroke:
Sometimes a stroke is the first sign a person has of other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or atrial fibrillation. If any of these are diagnosed, the health care team will prescribe appropriate treatment.
Surgery may be needed depending on the cause of the hemorrhage.
For more information about our stroke services, please call (415) 353-6927.