Stroke treatment

We found 33 clinics & 58 doctors for Stroke Worldwide. AiroMedical ranks among 444 hospitals based on qualification, experience, success rate, and awards.

A stroke is a severe neurological condition affecting blood circulation in the brain. In addition, trauma and heart diseases can increase the risk of stroke. To determine the affected brain area, doctors use imaging (as a rule, CT scan or MRI). Drug therapy (antiplatelet medicines), minimally invasive surgical removal of the plaque and rehabilitation are used as the treatment options.

A stroke is a sudden condition characterized by an interruption in blood flow due to the blockage or rupture of a blood vessel. Such a lesion kills brain cells, which affects bodywork. The effects and manifestations of the disease depend on the location of the defeat in the brain and its size.

According to WHO statistics, stroke is the third most common death cause (approximately 13-15%). People aged 50-70 are more prone to this disorder. However, in a third of cases, patients experience a recurrent stroke. Stroke affects kids, either. More than half of strokes in children are hemorrhagic (55% of cases).

Cerebral arteries provide nutrition to all structures of the brain and the body as a whole. Brain structures control the functions of our body (movement, speech, hearing, breathing, and much more). Blockage of an artery causes an oxygen deficiency. The brain's right hemisphere rules the left side of the body and vice versa. The brain's left side handles the right side of the body. For this reason, the appearance of a stroke in one hemisphere is manifested by changes in the opposite part of the body.

Neurologists usually classify stroke into:

  • Ischemic - the most common, characterized by vessel blockage and lack of oxygen. The occlusion may cause a thrombus (a blood clot). It accounts for 87% of all strokes.
  • Hemorrhagic - occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding into the surrounding tissue. This kind occurs in less than 15% of cases.
Show more

What are the causes of stroke?

Ischemic stroke is caused by a thrombus (a blood clot) or an embolus (a clot of fat, air, or a foreign object). In addition, head injuries and some heart diseases (atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillation) can lead to ischemic stroke.

The reason for a hemorrhagic stroke is a ruptured artery. Such reasons can cause it:

  • The trauma of the head.
  • Aneurysm - an abnormal ballooning in the wall of a blood vessel.
  • Arteriovenous malformations - a congenital defect in the development of blood vessels that disrupts normal blood flow and oxygen circulation.
  • Hypertension - high blood pressure damages and thins the blood vessels in the brain, causing them to rupture.

Doctors identify groups of factors that increase the risk of stroke:

  • Controlled factors: smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, arterial hypertension, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, COVID-19 infection.
  • Uncontrollable factors: older age, gender (men are more susceptible than women), family history of stroke, a previous stroke or heart attack.

Doctors confirm that stroke is not a primary disease. Other conditions, acute or chronic, always cause it. In addition, a stroke can complicate various vascular pathologies, anomalies, and injuries. These diseases include:

  • Cerebral ischaemic attack - is also called transient ischaemic attack, or TIA. It is also an acute violation of cerebral circulation. But there are differences between a cerebral ischaemic attack and a stroke. TIA lasts up to 24 hours, while stroke symptoms last longer than 24 hours.

Having a cerebral ischemic attack increases the risk of stroke. Approximately 25% of stroke patients have a history of TIA a few days or months after this attack.

  • Carotid artery syndrome means stenosis (narrowing) of the carotid arteries that are in the neck. The reason is a blood clot or an atherosclerotic (fatty) plaque. It reduces the supply of oxygen to the brain and causes a stroke.
  • Cerebral artery syndrome is a condition in which the blood supply from the anterior, middle or posterior cerebral artery is restricted.
  • Cerebrovascular diseases are a group of brain arteries pathologies that disrupt blood flow to the brain and lead to brain damage. For instance, such diseases are atherosclerosis, thrombosis, embolism, arterial hypertension and local lesions (vertebrobasilar artery syndrome, precerebral artery syndromes, spasm of cerebral artery and others).
Show more

Stroke symptoms and first signs

Doctors developed a method that helps quickly recognize the three most common stroke symptoms. It's called FAST:

  • Facial weakness: the person cannot smile, and the corner of his mouth goes down.
  • Arm weakness: inability to raise one's hand.
  • Speech problems: impossibility to speak clearly, the person cannot pronounce their name.
  • Time is of the essence. Call an ambulance immediately.

The symptoms of a stroke are always sudden. Other vital signs can include:

  • Weakness and numbness on one side of the body.
  • Slurred speech, difficulty understanding speech.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Confusion, dizziness, loss of consciousness.
  • Blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  • Strong headache.

How do neurologists diagnose stroke?

Brain imaging examinations help to confirm the diagnosis of acute stroke: CT (computer tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). According to European protocol, the scan must be completed within 25 minutes of the patient's admission to the emergency department.

MRI uses a magnetic field, while CT uses a form of X-ray radiation. These methods show:

  • Damage sizes.
  • Localization of brain lesions.
  • Type of stroke (ischemic or hemorrhagic).
  • A possible cause (trauma, tumour, clot, anomaly in the development of blood vessels).
  • The presence of complications or concomitant diseases.

Additional examinations are performed secondarily. Electrocardiography is needed to identify possible heart problems that could trigger a stroke. An ECG will show if the patient has hypertension or atrial fibrillation. About 15% of ischemic strokes are associated with atrial fibrillation.

Colour dopplerography (ultrasound of blood vessels of the head and neck) - examines the carotid and cerebral arteries in the neck, temples and back of the head. Colour ultrasound shows the walls of blood vessels, developmental anomalies, the presence of blood clots, and circulatory disorders.

Other tests are performed during the first day of the hospital stay. These include measurement of blood pressure, pulse oximetry and a blood test to detect cholesterol levels (presence of atherosclerosis) and blood sugar level (glucose) to rule out diabetes.

Show more

Treatment options for stroke and further recovery

A stroke is a vascular accident with rapid onset of symptoms. The disease requires urgent medical help. The cure should start as earlier as possible. In this way, doctors can save more brain cells. Unfortunately, no treatment will repair brain damage from a stroke. However, doctors can stop the lesion from spreading and remove its consequences.

Therapy tactics depend on the type of stroke. Treatment of ischemic stroke is directed to thrombolysis (intravenous medical destruction of the clot) or thrombectomy (surgical removal of the clot).

  • Thrombolytic drugs are clot-busting medication therapy. Physicians provide antiplatelet or tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) as the first treatment line. It is vital to give the medication within 4.5 hours of the onset of the stroke.
  • Intra-arterial thrombectomy is a minimally invasive surgical treatment. This method is used when the location of the clot is accurately determined using a CT scan. The physician inserts a unique tube through an artery in the leg and advances it to the brain. The tool grabs the blood clot and pulls it out.
  • Antiplatelet medicines (drugs that stop clots from forming) can be delivered directly to the brain during surgery.

Treatment of hemorrhagic stroke also consists of a conservative method (drug use) and a surgical one. Blood thinners and blood pressure medications are recommended. Modern minimally traumatic surgery involves endoscopic removal (through a small puncture) of a hematoma from the brain.

The organization of poststroke rehabilitation care is an essential step in recovery after the disease. The purpose of rehabilitation is to help restore lost body functions. After completing the primary treatment, the doctor conducts an examination and develops an individual rehabilitation plan. The purpose of rehabilitation is to help relearn skills for everyday life, increase endurance and adapt to disability.

Other treatment options include occupational therapy, strength and fitness training, and treadmill walking therapy. In addition, neuromuscular electrical stimulation is used as rehabilitation after a stroke. It improves muscle function and reduces disorders.

An innovative method for patients with movement disorders is robotic rehabilitation. The benefits of this therapy are high-dose and high-intensity training, which makes it very useful and practical. In addition, robots provide direct control of the joints, which minimizes incorrect movements.

Memory recovery activities include creating associations and strategies, keeping diaries, and filling calendars. Mood disturbances are common after a stroke and manifest in the form of depression or anxiety. Therefore, individual cognitive behavioural therapy with a psychologist is considered more practical. In some cases, doctors prescribe medications (sedatives or antidepressants).

Vision problems (changes in visual acuity, blurred or loss of visual field, impaired eye movements). Ophthalmologists may recommend lenses to improve vision or gymnastic eye therapy. Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Dysphagia can damage the lungs and cause pneumonia. To prevent this, patients must switch to feeding with a tube. Swallowing rehabilitation with a speech therapist conducts compensatory strategies (change of position) and special recovery exercises to facilitate eating. Approximately 30% of stroke patients develop speech problems. However, restoring speech can take a long time. Rehabilitation methods include breath control, phonation, articulation and resonance. The sooner rehabilitation after a stroke begins, the greater the likelihood of regaining lost skills.

The recovery period depends on the severity of the stroke and the complications associated with it. Some patients require long-term rehabilitation, which can take months or years. Usually, the treatment plan changes during the recovery period. However, with consistent practice, patients make progress over time.

Show more

What to expect after a stroke? - prognosis and statistics

According to statistics, the survival rate is 75% after an ischemic stroke. Unfortunately, this disorder is one of the most common causes of disability in patients. Most stroke patients have various problems that complicate their lives. In 25% of cases, patients will have a recurrent stroke within five years after their first stroke.

A stroke is dangerous because it causes side effects. About a ⅓ of patients after this disorder have speech, reading, and writing problems. In addition, the consequences may appear as severe weakness, sudden changes in mood, paresis and paralysis, problems with memory and attention, loss of vision, and many others.

FAQ

Can I recover after a stroke completely?

In some cases, yes, people can fully recover from a stroke. However, most patients require long-term support and long-term recovery.

Why do I have walking difficulties after a stroke?

Difficulty walking occurs when a stroke damages the part of the brain responsible for movement. It can cause weakness in an arm or leg or paralysis on one side of the body.

Is robotic rehabilitation the best option after a stroke?

Robotic rehabilitation remains the best and most modern approach to post-stroke recovery. It gives even more positive results when performed along with physiotherapy.

How fast can I recover after a stroke?

The duration of rehabilitation depends on many factors. The fastest recovery usually occurs in the first 3-4 months after a stroke. In most cases, this time increases to several years.

Why can stroke treatment abroad be better?

Stroke treatment is better abroad because there are special clinics which specialize in the therapy and rehabilitation of stroke patients. In addition, the availability of the necessary pharmacological preparations and modern technologies for minimally traumatic surgery maximizes the chances of a cure and patients' return to everyday life. 

Where can I get Stroke treatment?

Germany, Lithuania, Turkey, Spain are among the best for Stroke treatment.

4 countries and 23 cities for Stroke