How do medications treat a stroke?

Depending on the type of stroke, treatments options vary a great deal. In the case of hemorrhagic strokes, doctors must stop the bleeding in the brain. People with a hemorrhagic stroke who are taking anticoagulant medication may need additional treatments to help the blood clot. Blood transfusions, vitamin K, or other substances may be given through an IV to stop bleeding. Conversely, people with ischemic strokes are given aspirin or other anticoagulants to help increase blood flow in the brain. In some cases, analgesics like opioids are used to manage headache pain, too.

Dr. Steven A. Meyers, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

Medications for stroke generally fall into 2 categories, medications used to treat the stroke that is occurring to limit the damage caused and medications used to prevent future strokes. The type and cause of the stroke determines which medications are used. After a hemorrhagic stroke where there is bleeding in the brain, medications to prevent bleeding may be used. During ischemic stroke, drugs that break down blood clots to restore blood flow may be used if the patient presents very soon after the stroke. Medications that prevent blood clotting may be used to prevent future strokes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.