Stroke is among the most common causes of death, and ischemic stroke accounts for 87% of all strokes in the United States. Also known as a brain attack, these strokes can severely impair a person’s cognitive abilities and mobility or even result in death. Fortunately, IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics offers fast-acting intravenous Tissue Plasminogen Activator (IV tPA) treatment for patients in New Jersey and New York. Learn more about this life-saving treatment and how it can protect you from the effects of ischemic stroke.
What Is Ischemic Stroke?
An ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots prevent the flow of blood to the brain, depriving it of the oxygen it needs to function. Clots can form in the blood for many reasons and are a natural part of healing that stops bleeding. When these clots form in arteries and veins, however, there’s always a risk that a piece could break away and travel to the brain, cutting off blood flow and resulting in an ischemic stroke and the eventual death of brain cells.
Because of this, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately if you believe you are having or have recently had a stroke. Common symptoms of ischemic stroke include:
- Sudden numbness in your arm, leg, or face
- Difficulty understanding speech or speaking coherently
- Loss of vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness
- Sudden headache
- Loss of balance or difficulty with walking or moving
When these symptoms occur, call 9-1-1 and contact IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics right away.
Treating Ischemic Stroke with IV tPA
tPA won Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1995 and remains the only FDA-approved IV treatment for acute ischemic stroke today. This fast-acting medication is made with a protein that rapidly breaks down blood clots, restoring blood flow within minutes. While this medication is highly effective, it must be administered within 3 to 4.5 hours after the stroke onset for the best outcomes. When provided within this period, IV tPA can re-open the blood vessel in the brain and may even reverse its damage.
Tissue Plasminogen Activator is typically administered via IV in a hospital setting. However, patients outside the ideal period may receive this drug via a catheter applied directly to the site of the clot. This approach can also be preferred for individuals who have recently had surgery and those who take blood thinners.
If your stroke occurred more than 4.5 hours before treatment, tPA is not right for your needs. However, effective treatments may still be available, including:
Side Effects and Risks
In general, the benefits of tPA far outweigh the side effects and risks. Side effects are typically mild and brief, and some of the most common include:
- Bleeding, including bruising, nosebleeds, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary
- Vomiting and nausea
- Mild fever
- Rash or hives
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Complications related to tPA treatment are uncommon but may include intracranial or systemic hemorrhage. Individuals with the greatest risk of hemorrhage include men, older patients, and those who are affected by:
- Diabetes or hyperglycemia
- Poorly controlled hypertension (high blood pressure)
- More severe strokes and/or significant areas of ischemic change
- Atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure
- Use of antiplatelet drugs and/or anticoagulants
Patients taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may also be at increased risk for angioedema.
Your neurosurgeon can review all of the benefits, risks, and side effects associated with IV tPA treatment to help you and your family make informed decisions about your care.
Learn More about Tissue Plasminogen Activator
If you believe you’re experiencing the symptoms of ischemic stroke, don’t wait to seek help. Call emergency medical services immediately and contact IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics in NJ or NY to learn more about this fast-acting, life-saving treatment. Our compassionate, award-winning team of neurosurgeons can answer your questions and provide the care needed to help you successfully recover.