Ischemic Stroke or TIA
An Ischemic of stroke occurs when a clot or piece of clot clogs a narrowed blood vessel and cuts off the blood flow to a part of the brain. Brain damage caused by too little blood reaching a part of the brain is called an ischemic (is-KEM-ik) stroke. If this happens for only a short time (usually less than an hour) then it may be called a TIA which stands for transient ischemic attack. This is from the clot breaking up before the brain is damaged. If this happens your doctor needs to know so that s/he can evaluate your risk factors and help lower your risk of a stroke that might be very damaging.
- 88% of strokes are ischemic strokes.
- Symptoms may be sudden loss of strength or sensation on one side of the body, problems with speech and language, or changes in vision or balance.
- They often occur at night or first thing in the morning, but may occur at any time.
How will I know?
You may need to have a series of tests before your doctor can tell you whether you had an ischemic stroke and what type of stroke you have had.
Types of ischemic strokes
- Thrombotic stroke: This is caused by a blood clot (thrombus) in an artery. The clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain. Blood clots may form in arteries damaged by atheriosclerosis. This type of brain attack accounts for around 60 percent of all strokes.
- Embolic stroke: This type of brain attack accounts for about 20 percent of all strokes. It is caused by a clot that formed somewhere else in the body and traveled to clog a vessel in or leading to the brain.
- Lacunar or small vessel stroke: This type of stroke occurs in very small vessels deep in the brain. The recovery rate from this type of stroke is very good.
What is the treatment?
Surgery, drugs, hospital, and rehabilitation center care are all ways of treating a stroke and the symptoms that go along with it. Your doctor will discuss with you treatments that are right for you.
- Surgery. Sometimes surgery may be done to remove the thick fatty substance that has grown inside a neck artery. This is called a carotid endarterectomy. (kah-ROT-id end-art-er-EK-tom-ee)
- Drugs. Drugs that prevent clotting may be used to reduce the clotting in an artery, vein, or the heart. Some drugs may be used to treat brain swelling that can occur after a stroke. There are also other drugs that may be given to treat risk factors or depression.
- Hospital and Rehabilitation Care. Some effects of a stroke on the brain can not be reversed or improve very slowly. Therapy can help you to learn to live as independently as you are able. Physical therapy is used to help people to walk or use a wheelchair. Occupational therapy is used to strengthen the upper body and gain skills such as writing. Speech therapy helps people learn new ways to keep track of thoughts and speak with others. Swallow therapists can help you to ensure you get the appropriate food to prevent choking and pneumonia.
- Prevention. Doing all you can to prevent another stroke is a big part of treatment. See Health Fact # 5736 (Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk of Stroke).
To learn more
- Talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider. Call the American Heart Association’s Stroke connection. Dial 1-800-553-6321
- Talk to your family. If someone in your family has had a stroke, you and other family members may be at higher risk. It is useful to make changes now to lower the risk.
American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2012.
Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association;2012
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 10/16/2012
Copyright © 10/16/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6290
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