Ischemic Stroke or TIA
An ischemic (is-KEM-ic) stroke is when blood vessels to the brain become narrow or clogged.
This cuts off blood to part of the brain. When too little blood gets to the brain, the cells die. Fast
treatment is needed to decrease brain damage and problems.
A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is like a stroke, but the symptoms go away quickly,
usually in less than an hour. The clot in the brain breaks up before any lasting damage can
occur. If you have any events like this, your doctor needs to know, so you can learn how to
lower your chance of a stroke in the future.
ξ 88% of strokes are ischemic strokes.
ξ Signs may be sudden loss of strength or
feeling on one side of the body or face,
problems with speech and language, or
changes in vision or balance.
Types of Ischemic Strokes
o Narrowing of Blood Vessels (Thrombotic stroke): This stroke occurs when fatty
deposits, also known as “plaques” form in the blood vessels that feed your brain. This
called atherosclerosis. This plaque can reduce or stop the blood flow to the brain.
o Blood Clotting in Brain (Embolic stroke): This stroke happens when a blood clot is
formed in another place, many times the heart, and goes through your blood to lodge in
the brain arteries. This type of blood clot is called an “embolus”
o Small Vessel (Lacunar stroke): This type of stroke occurs in very small vessels deep in
the brain. The recovery rate from this type of stroke is very good.
What is the treatment?
To determine the best treatment for your stroke, your stroke team needs to know the type of
stroke you're having and the areas of your brain changed by the stroke. The goal is to save as
much brain function as possible.
Tests: You will have many tests to find out the type of stroke you have had and to figure
out your risk factors for future strokes. These may include CT, MRI, and blood tests.
Medications: A drug that breaks up clots, known as tPA, may be given to you in the
emergency department. Your doctors will also talk to you about other drugs you can take
to reduce your risk of stroke in the future.
Surgery: Depending on the timing and location of the stroke, surgery may be an option
to remove the clot. Your doctors may also talk to you about future surgical options to
remove the thick fatty substance that has grown inside a neck artery. This is called a
carotid endarterectomy. (kah-ROT-id end-art-er-EK-tom-ee).
Hospital and Care: Effects of a stroke on the brain can be long lasting or slow to
improve. Therapy can help you to learn to live a more independent life and figure out the
next steps after a stroke.
ξ Physical therapy is used to help people to walk or use a wheelchair.
ξ Occupational therapy is used to strengthen the upper body and gain skills such as
ξ Speech therapy helps people learn new ways to keep track of thoughts and speak
ξ Swallow therapists can help you to ensure you get the right food so you don’t
choke or get pneumonia.
Prevention: Doing all you can to prevent another stroke is a big part of treatment. See
Health Fact # 5736 (Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk of Stroke).
To learn more:
ξ Talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider. Visit the American Heart
Association/American Stroke Association website at www.strokeassociation.org
ξ Talk to your family. If you have had a stroke or TIA other family members are at higher
risk to have one.. It is a good idea for everyone to make changes together to lower risk
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 10/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#6290