Thrombolytics, such as tPA, may be given if the stroke is caused by a blood clot. Such medicine breaks up blood clots and helps restore blood flow to the damaged area. Persons who receive thrombolytics are less likely to have long-term stroke-related problems. However, not everyone can receive this type of medicine.
The most important rule is that the person be examined and treated by a specialized stroke team within 3 hours of when the symptoms start. If the stroke is caused by bleeding rather than clotting, thrombolytics can make the damage worse -- so care is needed to diagnose the cause before giving treatment.
In other circumstances, blood thinners such as heparin and Coumadin are used to treat strokes due to blood clots. Aspirin may also be used.
Other medications may be needed to control other symptoms, including high blood pressure. Painkillers may be given to control severe headache.
In some situations, a special stroke team and skilled radiologists may be able to use angiography to highlight the clogged blood vessel and open it up.
Nutrients and fluids may be necessary, especially if the person has swallowing difficulties. These may be given through a vein (intravenously) or a feeding tube in the stomach (gastrostomy tube). Swallowing difficulties may be temporary or permanent.