Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke. It occurs when a clot interrupts blood flow to the brain. This serious medical emergency requires immediate care from a highly skilled team. At Henry Ford Health, our stroke experts diagnose this type of stroke and begin treatment in minutes.

What is an Ischemic Stroke?

Before an ischemic stroke, waxy build-up (plaque) collects on blood vessel walls, slowing the rate of blood flow. Slow-moving blood cells form clumps called clots. Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot clogs a blood vessel in the brain, cutting off the oxygen supply. Permanent damage that affects your quality of life may occur within minutes.

With stroke treatment, time is one of the most critical factors:

  • Patients arriving at the hospital within 1 hour of symptom onset have the best chances for recovery.
  • Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is an effective treatment for ischemic stroke if received within 4.5 hours of symptom onset. This clot-busting drug helps restore blood flow to the brain.
  • Thrombectomy, removing a brain clot using minimally invasive techniques, offers a lifeline to patients for whom tPA is not successful. For eligible patients, receiving timely thrombectomy improves the chances of complete recovery.

Ischemic Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms you experience depend on where the stroke happens in the brain and may include:

  • Confusion
  • Coordination problems, including trouble walking or standing
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Weakness in your face, arms or legs on one or both sides
  • Vision problems, including double vision and sudden blindness
  • Sudden severe headache

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, remember the National Stroke Association’s recommendations and think F.A.S.T.:

  • F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
  • A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or does it sound strange?
  • T = Time: If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to dial 911.

Studies show stroke patients who arrive at the hospital by ambulance receive faster treatment than those arriving on their own.

Ischemic Stroke Treatment

As a Comprehensive Stroke Center, we offer the most advanced treatments and procedures available. Our experts will build a care plan around your unique needs. The plan may include:

Emergency treatment

When you arrive in the emergency room, we assess your symptoms. If we determine it’s a stroke, our team moves quickly to provide care, which may include:

  • Clot-busting drugs: Drugs such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) restore blood flow by dissolving the blood clot that is causing your stroke.
  • Mechanical thrombectomy: Our specialists perform a minimally invasive procedure to remove small blood clots in the brain.
  • Drugs that prevent blood clots: Medications such as aspirin or clopidogrel may be used to prevent a new stroke or worsening of symptoms in certain situations.
  • Monitoring: Physicians and nurses experienced in stroke care keep a careful eye on you for worsening symptoms or signs of complications.

Stroke recovery

After emergency treatment, you receive around-the-clock care to lower the risk of complications such as brain swelling. As you recover, rehabilitation services help you regain skills you may have lost as a result of the stroke. Read more about stroke recovery and stroke rehabilitation.

Stroke Prevention Services

Once you’ve had a stroke, you’re at risk for a second one. Our experts continue caring for many patients years after they leave the hospital through our Stroke Clinic. We perform regular monitoring and deliver preventive treatments, if necessary, to help you stay as healthy as possible. Find out more about stroke prevention.

Ischemic Stroke Care at Henry Ford: Why Choose Us?

Henry Ford Hospital has maintained Comprehensive Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission since 2016. Many of our locations have achieved Get With the Guidelines® honors from the American Heart Association. These accomplishments reflect our commitment to delivering leading stroke care as quickly as possible.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Expertise: You receive care from highly skilled stroke specialists. Interventional neurologists, interventional radiologists and neurosurgeons coordinate emergency treatment in real time when necessary. Fellowship-trained neurocritical care doctors and specially trained stroke nurses guide your recovery. Meet our stroke team.
  • Rapid care: All Henry Ford emergency rooms have experienced stroke teams available 24/7. We start assessing ischemic stroke symptoms within minutes of your arrival. We aim to deliver tPA to eligible patients within 45 minutes of arrival in the emergency room. Explore acute stroke services.
  • Advanced diagnostics: We use the most advanced diagnostic technology, including ultra-fast computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to help plan treatments. Henry Ford is home to the first whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) lab in the Midwest. MEG measures brain activity and may help predict how well you’ll recover.
  • Latest techniques: We excel in mechanical thrombectomy, a minimally invasive technique for ischemic stroke that does not respond to tPA alone. Henry Ford Hospital and Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital are among the few Michigan facilities to earn Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center designation from The Joint Commission. Read more about acute stroke services.
  • History of innovation: Henry Ford helped lead the national trials that developed tPA. Our team continues to advance stroke care through new research studies. Our interests include new clot-busting drugs and procedures that may offer additional treatment options. Find out more about stroke innovation and research.

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