Stroke from Atherosclerosis
Alternate Names : Brain Attack
What are the treatments for the condition?
Most people with strokes are treated right away with only aspirin if they do
not have bleeding into the brain. This only serves to help prevent further
strokes. In cases when a stroke is caught in the first few hours, a
clot-busting medication may be used to reverse a stroke. This is why early
recognition of a stroke can be important.
If someone has the early warning signs of stroke, the emergency medical system should be contacted immediately.
These signs include a sudden onset of:
weakness or numbness of the face,
arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
trouble walking or loss of balance, known as ataxia
speech impairments, including
trouble speaking or understanding speech
Other medications that may be used for a stroke from atherosclerosis include
medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Carotid endarterectomy may be recommended to widen the part of the carotid
artery that is narrowed. This surgical procedure removes the cholesterol
plaques and may prevent future strokes. The decision to perform surgery will
depend on the person's neurological status, the type of plaque clogging the
artery, and whether the plaque has a break in it, known as a rupture.
Supportive therapy may also be needed with some strokes. This may include an artificial breathing machine, or
ventilator, and an artificial
feeding tube if the person cannot swallow.
Rehabilitation services can help to improve a person's function after a stroke.
Physical therapy and other therapy, such as speech
therapy or occupational therapy, may be used to maximize
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects depend on the treatments used. For instance, aspirin may cause
allergic reactions, stomach upset, or bleeding. Clot-busting
medications can cause excessive bleeding. A
ventilator may sometimes cause damage to the lungs or an infection.
A carotid artery endarterectomy can cause bleeding, infections, and allergic reactions to the anesthesia. On rare occasions, carotid
endarterectomy can cause a stroke or heart attack to occur.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
After the person is stable, treatment of the risk factors for stroke, as well
as the cause of the stroke, is important to prevent further strokes. For
instance, stopping smoking and controlling high blood pressure,
diabetes, and high cholesterol
are advised for most people.
Many people need assistance of one form or another after a stroke. This may
range from using a walking cane to needing 24-hour-a-day skilled nursing
care. Ongoing therapy to improve function is usually advised for at least 6
months if the person is able.
How is the condition monitored?
People having a stroke are often admitted to the hospital for close monitoring.
Once the person is stable, he or she can often be sent home or to a skilled
nursing facility or rehabilitation center for further therapy.
Monitoring following a stroke from atherosclerosis includes regular blood
pressure measurements and blood tests to check cholesterol
levels. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare