It can’t be emphasized enough: the faster a stroke’s symptoms are identified, the better your chances of surviving with reduced long-term effects and disabilities.

But as important as “when” a stroke is identified, “how” it’s treated is just as crucial. Which is why medical professionals have tried and true methods to minimize a stroke’s damage — depending on what type of stroke is occurring and how long since symptoms first began.

Ischemic Stroke Treatment

To treat an ischemic stroke, doctors focus on restoring blood flow to the brain quickly. This is done with:

  • Emergency IV medication – Drugs administered through an IV that can break up a clot. These can only be given within 4.5 hours from when symptoms first started. The sooner these drugs are given, the better the chances for fewer long-term effects from the stroke.
  • Emergency endovascular procedures – Rather than administering drugs through an IV, doctors can perform an emergency procedure that will treat the stroke directly inside the blocked blood vessel. Doctors can deliver medication either directly to the brain or remove the clot with a stent retriever. Endovascular therapy has been shown to improve outcomes and reduce long-term disability significantly.

Hemorrhagic Stroke Treatment

Emergency treatment for a hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure in the brain caused by the excess fluid. This is done with:

  • Emergency Medication – Emergency drugs are given to lower the pressure in the brain, lower blood pressure, prevent spasms of the blood vessels and prevent seizures.
  • Surgery – For a significant bleed, doctors may need to perform surgery to remove blood, relieve pressure on the brain and/or repair any blood vessels.
  • Surgical clipping – A surgeon places a tiny clamp at the base of the aneurysm, which can keep the aneurysm from bursting or keep an aneurysm that has recently hemorrhaged from bleeding again.
  • Coiling (endovascular embolization) – Using a catheter inserted through an artery in the groin and guided up into the brain, the surgeon places tiny detachable coils into the aneurysm to fill it. This blocks blood flow into the aneurysm and causes blood to clot.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery – A minimally invasive advanced treatment that uses multiple beams of highly focused radiation to repair blood vessel malformations.

After these methods help successfully treat a stroke, patients can start their journey toward recovery.