Stroke – Medications

Early treatment, which includes treatment after a stroke is vital to save the patient from severe and life-threatening impairments. The objective of the stroke medication is breaking down or preventing the blood clots caused by a stroke. There are different kinds of medications that doctors may prescribe to a stroke victim, including tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), blood thinners and drugs that work on lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol.

tPA, also called clot busters, can only be given to victims whose stroke was caused by a blood clot (in the case of Ischemic Stroke). On the other hand, blood-thinning medicines help to prevent blood clots forming. They are often prescribed after Ischemic Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). For early treatment after an Ischemic Stroke or TIA, the patient should be given Aspirin as soon as possible so that chances of further blood clots and having another stroke are reduced. However, it should be avoided if a stroke that has taken place due to the blood vessel burst.

Known as Antihypertensives, blood pressure lowering medications treat high blood pressure in stroke patients. Here, the doctor needs to work with the stroke survivor to find best-suited drug or combination of drugs to prevent severe side effects.  Some Antihypertensives include ACE (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme) Inhibitors, ARB’s (Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists), Beta-blockers, Calcium channel blockers and Diuretics.

Apart from asking the stroke victim to make changes in his diet, a doctor may also prescribe certain cholesterol lowering medications, including Cholesterol absorption inhibitors (ezetimibe), Fibrates (Fibric Acid Derivatives), Niacin, Resins and Statins.

Medication for Ischemic Stroke

Based on the symptoms and severity level, the patient should be prescribed anti-platelet medication. Generally, medicine having tPA is given to the patient to break up blood clots and restore blood flow to the brain. A clot-busting medicine, known as Thrombolysis could be prescribed, which attempts to break down and disperse a clot that is resisting blood to reach the brain. For best results, it needs to be given to the victim within four and a half hours of stroke.

Anticoagulant medicines like Heparin or Warfarin can also be given to prevent blood clots forming in the future along with medicines to lower cholesterol and control blood pressure.

Medication for Hemorrhagic Stroke

The immediate medication that focuses on controlling the brain bleeding and reducing the pressure caused by bleeding is crucial. Here Antihypertensive agents such as Labetalol can be useful to slow down the bleeding or reducing blood pressure. Anticonvulsants such as Diazepam should be given to the patient urgently to prevent the blood vessels from tightening and seizures. A person taking blood thinners should be given a drug to counter the effect of the thinners during emergency treatment.

Medication for Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs)

If the TIA symptoms persist, the patient needs to be examined for identifying any weakness or numbness, walk issue, vision problems or any impairments related to hearing, speech and language comprehension. Once the cause of the TIA is identified, the goal of medication is to correct the abnormality and prevent a stroke. Depending on the cause of TIA, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce blood clotting. Aggrenox, a combination of Aspirin and Dipyridamole can be suggested to the patient. Meditation for hypertension and cholesterol control can also be prescribed alongside Antiplatelet pills to regulate blood pressure, cholesterol and lipid levels.