For the first time, acute stroke became a treatable disorder 20 years ago. Before the advent of thrombolysis (tPA) for acute ischemic stroke all we could offer someone who presented to hospital with a stroke was supportive care.
The injection of tPA(tissue plasminogen activator) into patients who present to hospital with acute stroke has improved the chances of a better recovery after stroke. tPA is a time sensitive treatment that can only be given within the first 4.5 hours after the stroke starts. tPA can only be given to patients with stroke due to a block in the circulation (most strokes), and not to stroke caused by bleeding into the brain. The treatment has to be used with caution and in the right patient as a side effect is bleeding. When used in the appropriate person tPA on average substantially improves the outcome in 1 in 6 people and with a bleeding complication risk of less than 1 in 30.
The most important factor that can lead to a good outcome is to act “FAST”. Know the warning signs of stroke: facial weakness, arm weakness, inability to speak normally. Act quickly, time is brain, call 911!
For some patients with an acute ischemic stroke (stroke due to blockage in the circulation), a new treatment has emerged. For those patients with a large clot in the circulation, sometimes, a catheter can be placed into the clot, and the clot can be removed, to restore the circulation. This treatment is also very time dependent and patients need to act “FAST”.
For more information on this treatment: