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Stroke Types and Treatments

There are two major categories of stroke:

  • Ischemic is the most common form of stroke and is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain. The blockage prevents blood, oxygen and nutrients from getting to the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke is when blood vessel(s) burst (subarachnoid hemorrhage) or leak blood into the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage).

Ischemic stroke

Gundersen offers many treatment options to restore blood flow to the brain which can minimize the debilitating effects of ischemic stroke. Treatment depends on multiple medical factors and a combination of options may be used:

  • Tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) is a medication that dissolves a clot. This "clot-buster" has been approved to treat ischemic strokes in the first three hours following the onset of symptoms. When t-PA is given promptly, a person's functional outcome is better compared to those who did not receive the t-PA.
  • Certain patients can be treated with t-PA up to four-and-a-half hours following the onset of symptoms.
  • In some cases, we can perform a thrombectomy which is a procedure to remove the blood clot(s) from arteries leading to, or in, the brain from inside the vessel using a special clot-removal device.
    Studies show combined treatment improves outcomes
    A number of recent studies have shown that using clot removal in addition to t-PA for patients with a certain type of ischemic stroke works far better than just t-PA alone. The benefits of clot removal include:

    • More time becomes available—for eligible patients treatment can be provided up to six hours after a stroke versus the shorter window for t-PA alone.
    • Clot removal offers a potential treatment option for patients who may not be eligible for t-PA.
    • There was no increase in mortality or bleeding in the brain with clot removal.
    • Better long-term outcomes were achieved.
  • Plaque or debris can clog the carotid (the major neck artery) resulting in stroke. Plaque removal can happen via a minimally invasive technique called carotid stenting, or via surgery known as carotid endarterectomy. Both procedures improve blood flow to the brain and reduce the risk of future stroke.

People who have experienced an ischemic stroke will be seen in Gundersen Neurosciences for follow-up care.

Transient ischemic attack

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes called a "mini stroke," but is considered a major warning sign that a stroke could be pending. TIA is a medical emergency. The symptoms are the same as a stroke, but only last a few minutes or hours. If someone suffers these symptoms, it is essential that they call 911 right away!

Patients seen for a TIA are given a full evaluation right in our Emergency Services. Knowing a patient's risk and potential cause of a pending stroke provides the opportunity to prevent a stroke.

Hemorrhagic stroke

A hemorrhagic (hehm-or-AA-jik) stroke happens when there is bleeding into the brain. The bleeding comes from a leak in a blood vessel (intracerebral hemorrhage), or an aneurysm that bursts (subarachnoid hemorrhage). This can be caused by high blood pressure or a defect in the blood vessel.

The cause and location of the bleeding must be found first. Treatments may include:

  • Medicines to:
    • Help control blood pressure
    • Control bleeding
    • Keep brain swelling down
    • Manage seizures (if needed)
  • Coiling is a minimally invasive surgical treatment to repair a vessel that has an aneurysm
  • Surgical clot removal

People who have experienced a hemorrhagic stroke will be seen in Gundersen Neurosciences for follow-up care.

Request an Appointment

Call (608) 775-4584 or (608) 775-64584 or
  (800) 362-9567, ext. 54584 (800) 362-9567, ext. 54584

East Building - Level 3
724 Denton St.
La Crosse, WI 54601
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