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​Stroke Treatment Options

Having a stroke is an emergency situation.

Someone suffering a stroke needs immediate treatment to:

  • Dissolve the clot causing an ischemic stroke.


  • Stop the bleeding during a hemorrhagic stroke.

Other interventions during an acute stroke include:

  • Providing adequate oxygen.
  • Administering glucose.
  • Taking precautions to prevent choking.

Other stroke care aims to:

  • Reduce the chance of subsequent strokes.
  • Improve functioning.
  • Overcome disabilities.

Therapies for Treating Stroke

When a large artery is blocked or occluded, advanced therapies are used to restore blood flow and help improve outcomes. Examples of advanced therapies include:

  • Intra-arterial clot-dissolving drugs.
  • Mechanical clot removal devices to loosen and remove clots.
  • Opening of occluded/blocked vessels with stents.

Stroke therapies include:

  • Clot-dissolving drugs given within three hours of the onset of symptoms. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is given through a vein after the doctor has confirmed the stroke's cause, and there is no evidence of bleeding.
  • Interventional treatment is for patients who present with stroke outside of the window for IV tPA or who are not able to receive the treatment due to a medical condition or medications they take. 
    This treatment involves a procedure similar to a cardiac catheterization. A specially trained stroke doctor may suggest an interventional procedure in which catheters are inserted through the groin and navigated up to the arteries in the brain. 
    Several options for treatment are available; these are referred to as intra-arterial therapies. They can include:
    • Injection of clot busting medication.
    • Use of devices to mechanically remove the clot that is blocking an artery.
    • Stent or balloon angioplasty to open blocked arteries.

Additional therapies are used to:

  • Control blood pressure.
  • Reduce the chance of additional clot formation (aspirin or similar medications).
  • Reduce brain swelling.
  • Correct irregular heart rhythm.


Make an Appointment

Call the UPMC Stroke Institute at 412-232-8840 to schedule an appointment with a UPMC stroke specialist.

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