Why Choose Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Ischemic Stroke Treatment?
As a medical emergency, ischemic stroke must be immediately treated in order to avoid serious health complications such as brain damage. The team of medical professionals at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital has vast knowledge and extensive experience in the treatment of ischemic stroke and will promptly offer you the healthcare you need. By virtue of the state-of-the-art technology our hospital is equipped with, we can treat ischemic stroke with minimal risks of complications. Since 1969, we have been providing quality healthcare to the Los Angeles community and are bound to do the same for you, in a calm and compassionate environment.
Also known as brain ischemia and cerebral ischemia, ischemic stroke occurs when there is a blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. The obstruction reduces blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which, if left untreated, can result in severe brain damage.
Up to 87% of strokes are ischemic strokes and every year, approximately 795,000 people experience an ischemic stroke in the United States. The blockage in ischemic strokes can be caused by a blood clot or by atherosclerosis, a disease that leads to the narrowing of the arteries over time. People who experienced ischemic strokes need to receive treatment as soon as possible, as they may suffer severe brain damage if their condition is left untreated.
People with ischemic stroke must receive treatment within 3 hours, which usually consists of medication, such as tissue plasminogen, whose purpose is to dissolve the blood clot that is causing the obstruction of the artery. However, some patients may have to undergo surgery for ischemic strokes, which is known as thrombectomy and reverses the symptoms of the ischemic stroke. Furthermore, patients may receive medication to relieve brain swelling and pressure that typically accompany ischemic strokes. Oxygen may also be needed for patients with ischemic strokes, as well as intravenous feeding to provide them with fluids and nourishment.
It is worthy of note that removing the obstruction in the blood vessels in the case of a transient ischemic attack can reduce the risk of experiencing future strokes. In such cases, carotid artery stenting or treatment for aneurysms or arteriovenous malformation may be recommended. Ultimately, the goal of treatment for ischemic stroke is to prevent the life-threatening complications that may arise if the condition is left untreated. Appropriate treatment will prevent future strokes, reduce disability and help the patient regain as much normal functioning as possible through rehabilitation. However, the most effective treatment for ischemic stroke will highly depend on the damage it has caused to the brain and may include one or more of the following:
- emergency IV medication: the patient will receive a drug known as alteplase, which is the most effective in dissolving blood clots, intravenously within 4.5 hours from when they began experiencing symptoms, and the sooner this medication is administered, the better their prognosis will be
- emergency endovascular procedures: in some cases, the patient requires surgical treatment for ischemic stroke, which can be either medication delivered to the brain or the removal of the blood clot that is obstructing the artery with a stent retriever
- carotid endarterectomy: this surgery has the purpose of removing the plaque that blocks the carotid arteries and significantly reduces the risk of future ischemic strokes
- angioplasty and stents: during angioplasty, the surgeon threads a catheter to your carotid arteries through one of the arteries in your groin and a balloon is subsequently inflated to expand the narrowed artery, followed by the insertion of a stent to support the opened artery, which will also prevent the occurrence of future strokes
Symptoms of Ischemic Stroke
Timely recognizing the symptoms of ischemic stroke is crucial in promptly receiving the treatment you need to avoid the risk of serious health complications. The most common symptoms of ischemic stroke occur suddenly and include:
- weakness or numbness of the face, arm, leg, especially on one side of the body
- difficulty speaking
- trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- trouble walking
- dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- severe headache with no known cause
- face, arm, or leg pain
- hiccups or nausea
- chest pain or palpitations
- shortness of breath
If the symptoms cease within only several minutes, chances are that the patient experienced a transient ischemic attack. However, they still need to seek medical attention, as this is one of the warning signs of a stroke.
Diagnosis of Ischemic Stroke
By virtue of the advancement of medical technology, there are numerous tests and exams used to diagnose ischemic strokes. The following are the most commonly employed, as well as the most effective:
- a physical exam: during the physical exam, the doctor will listen to your heart and check your blood pressure, as well as conducts a neurological exam to determine how a potential stroke is affecting your nervous system
- blood tests: the purpose of blood tests in the diagnosis of ischemic strokes is to check how fast your blood clots, whether your blood sugar is too high or low and whether an infection is occurring in your body
- CT scan: during computed tomography, the doctor will receive clear, high-quality images of your brain that will help them determine whether there is bleeding in your brain, whether you are experiencing ischemic stroke and whether you have a brain tumor or another condition affecting your brain
- MRI scan: this effective test uses powerful radio waves and magnets to create detailed images of your brain and will also help your physician determine whether you are experiencing an ischemic stroke, as you will be administered a dye, known as a contrast agent, intravenously, which will highlight the blood flow in your body
- carotid ultrasound: by using sound waves that create precise images of the inside of the carotid arteries in your neck, this test will allow your doctor to determine whether there is a buildup of fatty deposits in your carotid arteries and will also help them assess the blood flow in your carotid arteries
- cerebral angiogram: while this test is rarely used nowadays, it can be useful, as it will show a detailed view of the arteries in your brain and neck after the physician inserts a thin, flexible tube, known as a catheter, through a tiny incision in your groin and subsequently guides it through your major arteries and into your carotid artery
- echocardiogram: this diagnostic test also uses sound waves to provide your doctor with clear images of the inside of your heart and can be very helpful in finding the source of blood clots in your heart that may have traveled from your heart to your brain and caused your ischemic stroke
While ischemic strokes can occur in people of any age, including children, they are significantly more common in older adults. The older a person is, the higher their risk of experiencing a stroke is. According to medical research, ischemic strokes are more frequent in men, but the number of women who die from this condition is larger. Furthermore, studies also showed that African-Americans have greater chances of experiencing ischemic stroke than Caucasians. In people younger than 50, the most common causes of ischemic stroke include migraine, drug abuse, consumption of energy drinks or herbal supplements, and arterial dissection, which occurs when a small tear forms in the inner lining of the artery wall, allowing blood to leak into the space between the inner and outer layers of the vessel. However, researchers have also found several risk factors for ischemic stroke, some of which you can avoid, as they concern lifestyle, such as:
There are a series of complementary therapies and lifestyle changes you can do to avoid the risk of experiencing another ischemic stroke in the future, such as:
- drinking black or green tea: tea contains certain nutrients known as flavonoids, which help decrease high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and drinking at least 3 cups of black or green tea every day may considerably reduce your risk of ischemic stroke
- eating plenty of fruits and vegetables: according to researchers, eating more fruit, especially pomegranate, can increase happiness and wellbeing as quickly as the next day and will also reduce your stress levels
- engaging in yoga: as a low-impact form of exercise, yoga can improve stroke recovery, particularly for people with balance issues or fear of falling
- staying physical active: tai chi is another form of exercise you can engage in if you experienced a stroke or if you are at high risk for this condition, but you can stay physically active in other ways as well, such as by walking, bicycling, or swimming, depending on your age
- going to massage sessions: massages were found to increase blood flow to affected areas of the body, especially for muscle problems caused by ischemic strokes and, in one study, massages were found to decrease pain, increase health and improve movement following ischemic stroke
- aromatherapy: going to aromatherapy sessions or using a vaporizer at home will help you relax and keep your stress levels under control, which may prevent the occurrence of ischemic stroke if you are prone to it
- meditation: meditation helps you relax and focus your mind on positive aspects of your life, which can also decrease your stress levels
- acupuncture: it helps ease pain and manage muscle problems affected by stroke
- taking dietary supplements: there are plenty of dietary supplements that are suitable and beneficial for people with a history of strokes, such as folic acid, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin C, betaine, and omega-3 fatty acids
- herbal supplements: taking herbal supplements such as ashwagandha, garlic, turmeric, and bilberry can also help manage the aftermath of ischemic stroke
If you have a family history of heart disease or stroke, your risk of experiencing an ischemic stroke is high. Nevertheless, if you take good care of your health, you can significantly reduce your chances of this happening by following the next advice: