How Is a Stroke Treated?

The sooner a stroke is treated, the better. In the neurological community, there is the saying “time is brain” because when a person is having a stroke, every second counts.

A stroke is a blood clot or burst blood vessel that restricts blood flow to the brain. The blood carries oxygen, and within four minutes of oxygen deprivation from a stroke, brain cells begin to die. From this point forward, an estimated one million brain cells die every minute.

We have billions of brain cells, but we can only afford to lose so many. A single firing neuron can stimulate thousands of others, so the death of hundreds of millions of brain cells due to delayed treatment can be devastating and potentially deadly. At Neuralert, we designed our stroke detection monitor to detect signs of a stroke fast, in order to help people receive medical care as quickly as possible.

Early treatment

If you suspect that you or a loved one is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. Don’t wait to see if symptoms get worse or wonder if you’re overreacting. The emergency medical team in the ambulance can quickly assess the person, transmit information to the hospital to prepare the stroke staff there ahead of time, and begin providing medical treatment. They can also be directed to take the patient to a more advanced stroke center to ensure the very best care.

When the patient arrives at the hospital, the first step is to perform brain scans to determine if the person is having an ischemic stroke or a hemorrhagic stroke. This is critical information because the two types of stroke require very different treatment plans.

Treating an ischemic stroke

An ischemic stroke, which accounts for 80% of strokes, is caused by a blood clot. The most immediate treatment for an ischemic stroke is the intravenous administration of a “thrombolytic,” or clot-busting drug, the most effective being tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). Studies have shown that when administered within three hours of a stroke, tPA can dramatically decrease the impact of the stroke on the brain. Some studies suggest the window is as much as four and a half hours.

For those who do not receive tPA within the allotted time or for whom it is ineffective, blood thinners may be administered. Alternatively, a doctor may perform a medical procedure to remove the clot causing the blockage.

Treating a hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a burst blood vessel, either within the brain or outside of the brain. This is a very serious condition that may have to be treated with surgery in order to repair the damaged blood vessel or clamp the bleeding. It may also be necessary to remove a portion of the skull temporarily to relieve pressure from swelling.

Treatment during immediate recovery

During recovery from a stroke, medical teams will work to keep the patient’s blood pressure and blood glucose within healthy ranges. Too high or too low a range of either can be dangerous for the stroke patient and inhibit recovery.

Fluids and electrolytes must also be carefully managed. IV fluids will likely be administered, enriched with crucial elements such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. The nerves of the brain need the right amount of electrolytes to function properly; thus, healing of the brain will depend in part upon the availability of electrolytes.


Rehabilitation should begin as soon as possible, while the patient is still in the hospital, in order to “remind” the brain how to function properly. At first, a physical therapist may simply move a person’s limbs for him or her, then they will work towards having the patient move them. Depending on the effects of the stroke, therapy will continue post-hospitalization and could include physical therapy, occupational therapy, or any number of other therapies in order to help the person regain function.

The patient may be discharged to a subacute care facility or inpatient rehab center, where the patient remains for a time for further treatment. Or the patient may be discharged home, to continue with in-home therapy or outpatient therapy.

While many stroke patients recover significantly and never experience another stroke, one in four will have another stroke within five years. So it is very important for stroke patients to follow medical advice and to remain vigilant against another stroke. The Neuralert stroke detection monitor can provide an added level of vigilance.

Our state-of-the-art system consists of wristbands that look like a smartwatch. These wristbands monitor asymmetric arm movement, one of the earliest hallmarks of stroke onset, and send an alert to your medical team to quickly assess you for a possible stroke. The faster you receive treatment, the better, because “time is brain.” Ask your doctor about adding Neuralert to your post-stroke recovery plan.