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Ischemic Stroke Treatment

Ischemic stroke is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain. It requires emergency treatment and also close follow-up care to prevent another stroke. UC San Diego Health is the only medical center in San Diego with stroke specialists in the hospital 24/7 who also provide excellent secondary care.

Ischemic Stroke: Emergency Response

When ischemic strokes occur, UC San Diego stroke physicians respond rapidly and accurately with medicines and endovascular procedures.

Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA)

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the most common emergency stroke treatment medication. tPA works by dissolving arterial blood clots that block nourishment from getting to the brain. This life-saving medication is delivered intravenously to ischemic stroke patients within 4.5 hours of a stroke.

Mechanical Thrombectomy

If there is a medical reason to avoid the use of tPA, UC San Diego neurovascular surgeons perform mechanical thrombectomy. We have access to the most leading-edge retrieval devices to remove blood clots. Our neurosurgeons train physicians throughout the country on the use of this specialized equipment. These devices include stentrievers (including Solitaire) and the Penumbra system. Endovascular thrombectomy can be performed up to 8 hours after a stroke.

Ischemic Stroke: Secondary Treatment

Secondary treatment focuses on diagnosing and treating the condition that caused the stroke.

Carotid artery stenosis is the narrowing of the two large blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain. The narrowing is usually caused by the buildup of cholesterol. This condition accounts for about 25 percent of ischemic strokes. UC San Diego Health neurosurgeons treat carotid artery stenosis through:

Read more about carotid artery disease and treatments.

Intracranial atherosclerotic disease (ICAD) refers to the narrowing of arteries in the brain. Approximately 10 percent of strokes occur due to ICAD. UC San Diego Health neurologists work closely with our endovascular neurosurgeons to provide aggressive medical management of this condition. When necessary, balloon angioplasty (widening of the arteries) or intracranial stenting is performed.

Cardiogenic causes, including abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) and patent foramen ovale (PFO), account for approximately 20 percent of strokes. UC San Diego Health neurosurgeons, neurologists and cardiologists work in a multidisciplinary team to treat cardiogenic conditions, such as surgically correcting PFO to prevent stroke. Read more about our Electrophysiology Program.

Hematologic causes of stroke, including bleeding disorders, are treated by the combined expertise of neurosurgeons, neurologists and hematologists to medically manage hematologic disorders associated with ischemic stroke.

For more information on the treatment of ischemic stroke, contact our Stroke Center at 858-657-8530.

Read information about hemorrhagic stroke.


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