Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA)
What You Should Know
What is tPA?
tPA is a drug that dissolves blood clots. It is
used to help reduce the effects of a stroke.
What type of stroke is tPA used
tPA is used to treat ischemic strokes which
are caused by blood clots. The blood clot is
formed in one part of the body and then
travels to a smaller blood vessel in the brain.
It blocks the blood flow to that part of the
brain. Close to 80% of all strokes are
ischemic. For strokes of this nature, tPA can
help dissolve the clot quickly.
When is TPA used?
In 1996, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) approved the use of
tPA to treat stroke in the first three hours
after the onset of symptoms. It is now
considered acceptable to treat stroke in
certain people up to 4 ½ hours after the
symptoms start. This means that if you
think you are having a stroke get help
right away. If given promptly, tPA can
reduce the effects of stroke and reduce
Can everyone use tPA?
No. You may not be able to receive tPA if
you have had:
ξ Recent heart attack
ξ Head trauma within the last three
ξ Blood in your stools or urine
within the last 21 days
ξ Surgery within the last 14 days
ξ Bleeding problems
ξ Use of blood thinners, such as
ξ High blood pressure
What are the risks of tPA?
Bleeding is the most common risk. The
bleeding can occur in the brain or elsewhere
in the body
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright 8/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#5828