Stroke Medical Treatment
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association guidelines for initial care and treatment for stroke patients were revised and published in January 2013. The recommendations are extensive and specific but the major points are summarized as follows:
The initial treatment for stroke is supportive.
- The patient usually will be given fluids through an IV because if they are having a stroke, they may often be dehydrated.
- Oxygen may be given to be sure that the brain is getting the maximal amount.
- If the patient has any difficulty breathing, this will be assessed and treated.
- Unlike people with chest pain, people having a stroke are not given an aspirin immediately.
- The patient is requested not to eat or drink until their ability to swallow is assessed.
- Blood pressure control: Although blood pressure control is part of the prevention and treatment of strokes, it is important not to lower the blood pressure too much so that the brain will get enough blood. Many different medications can be used to lower the blood pressure including pills, nitroglycerin paste, or IV injections. If the blood pressure is very high, the patient would be placed on a continuous IV flow of medication.
- Many people with stroke have very high blood pressure when they come to the emergency department. This may be due to an underlying problem or in response to the stroke. The doctor will assess the blood pressure and the type of stroke and decide if the blood pressure should be lowered.
- If the patient has acute stroke, they will be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and further testing to figure out the cause of the stroke and ways to prevent a future stroke. Once someone has had a stroke, they are at greater risk than others of having an additional stroke.
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