Treatment depends on the type and severity of your stroke. The goals of treatment are to restore blood flow, minimize damage, and prevent another stroke. Time is the most important element of treatment in decreasing the amount of brain damage of any stroke. If you suspect a stroke call for emergency medical services immediately. Emergency services can begin some treatment before reaching the hospital.

For ischemic stroke, clot-busting medication can open blood vessel and restore blood flow to the brain. The increased blood flow can decrease or prevent damage to the affected areas of the brain. The earlier the medication is delivered the better the outcomes.

  • If medical care is given within 4½ hours of start of symptoms, clot-busting medications may be delivered through IV.
  • If medical care is given within approximately 6 hours of start of symptoms, intra-arterial (IA) clot-busting medications may be used. IAs are delivered directly to the clot through a catheter.

These therapies are not used for hemorrhagic strokes. Treatment for hemorrhagic stroke include efforts to slow or stop the bleeding.

Once you are stabilized and evaluated, management will shift to rehabilitation. The days and weeks after your first stroke may be an entirely new world to you. It will include hard work to recover or retrain function you lost, such as speech, walking, or the use of an arm or leg. Recovery can take days, weeks, or months. Rehabilitation can last years.

To achieve these goals, you will have a health care team that is made up of doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and other health professionals. It is important to maintain contact with your medical team, adhere to recommended treatment and rehabilitation, and go to any recommended appointments.

Treatment involves the following:

Lifestyle changesMedicationsSurgeryOther treatments—rehabilitation

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2013 -
  • Update Date: 00/61/2014 -
  • How is stroke treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stroke/treatment.html. Updated March 26, 2014. Accessed June 13, 2014.

  • Long term management of stroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 6, 2014. Accessed June 13, 2014.

  • Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 22, 2014. Accessed June 13, 2014.

  • Stroke treatments. American Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/Treatment/Stroke-Treatments%5FUCM%5F310892%5FArticle.jsp. Updated May 29, 2014. Accessed June 13, 2014.