A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain has a clot or ruptures. This deprives part of the brain of blood and oxygen, so brain cells quickly start to die.
Some areas affected by the stroke will die very quickly, but other areas will hold on over a period of time. As more time goes by though, those areas will also start to die.
The longer a person goes untreated, the more irreversible the damage is to the brain.
Every single second counts.
Getting to the clot
An ischemic stroke, which affects 85 percent of people who have a stroke, is caused by a clot blocking a blood vessel. When this happens, there are two types of treatments that can be used to re-open the blood vessels and restore blood flow to the brain. The firs a clot-busting medication called tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator. This medication can be given within 4.5 hours of symptom onset and can dissolve the clot.
Patients who have suffered a stroke have access to the most advanced resources available for the treatment of stroke. The LECC Stroke Team also has partnerships with many area hospitals who transfer stroke patients to our Comprehensive Stroke Center and provide stroke consultations through tele stroke to area hospitals as needed.
A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or tears. There are two main types of hemorrhagic stroke. The more common one is known as intraparenchymal hemorrhage or intracerebral hemorrhage. It occurs when the blood vessel bursts in the brain and bleeds into its parenchyma, or neural tissue.
On the other hand, a subarachnoid hemorrhage happens when a blood vessel bursts right outside of the brain and the bleeding leaks into the space between the brain and the skull.
Both types of hemorrhagic strokes can lead to brain cells dying because the leaked blood causes swelling of the brain and more pressure in the skull.
High blood pressure is a leading cause of hemorrhagic stroke, particularly intraparenchymal hemorrhage. Treatment might include medication to lower your blood pressure, in an effort to slow or stop the bleeding in your brain.
Hemorrhagic strokes can also be caused by blood thinners known as antithrombotic drugs, such as warfarin. Those are commonly prescribed for problems like swelling or blood clots in a vein. If you have a hemorrhagic stroke while taking a blood thinner, your physician will immediately stop your medication as part of your treatment.
A potential cause of the less-common subarachnoid hemorrhage is a ruptured aneurysm a swollen blood vessel that bursts. When this happens, surgery might be done to place a type of metal clip on the blood vessel to stop the bleeding.
Certain endovascular procedures might also help. These are less invasive treatments performed within the blood vessels using a catheter or other devices.
Like ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes are dangerous and require fast treatment. Otherwise, they could result in long-term brain damage, and even death.
If you’re showing symptoms of a stroke or think a friend is, don’t wait even a few minutes. Call for help right away. Quick treatment could save your friend’s life and greatly improve his quality of life later.
Every stroke is different, but one thing that’s universal with all strokes is that time is critical. The sooner you get treatment, the better chance you have at a good outcome.