Treatments for Stroke

The Mount Sinai Health System takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating stroke, bringing specialists in vascular neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, emergency medicine, and rehabilitation together to provide you with the most prompt and comprehensive care possible. We are pioneering new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of stroke that can significantly improve your chances for an optimal recovery.

With each new patient, we immediately contact our Stroke Center  and prepare the patient for testing and treatment. To address a stroke, we must immediately open the blocked blood vessel, which should restore blood flow to the brain and stop further damage. We may also provide supportive care in the form of oxygen therapy and precautions to prevent choking. 

We offer our stroke patients specialized facilities, including a neurocritical care unit with state-of-the-art monitoring for post-procedure care, and a dedicated, state-of-the art acute stroke unit for ongoing evaluation and management. Our patients continue treatment in one of the intensive care units, being closely watched before transferring to step-down units or a general floor. In addition, our patients begin work with speech, occupational, and physical therapists shortly after admission. The Stroke Team works closely with Rehabilitation to make sure the transition goes smoothly. Patients continue under the care of their Stroke Center neurologist even after discharged, providing critical continuity of care.

Medications for Stroke

We may use a type of medication called thrombolytics, which can rapidly dissolve blood clots. We often deliver these medications intravenously or even more directly into the artery with the blood clot. For maximum effectiveness, we must give these medications within hours of the start of symptoms. We may also recommend other medications to lower the risk of blood clot formation, decrease blood pressure, or correct irregular heart rhythms, all with the hope of preventing future strokes.

Advanced Treatments for Stroke

We offer advanced treatments for stroke that can significantly improve your chances for an optimal recovery. These therapies are performed in conjunction with the Department of Neurosurgery and include:

  • Intravenous alteplase: A clot-busting medication for acute ischemic stroke
  • Embolization for brain aneurysms: A process that packs brain aneurysms (weakened areas of the arterial wall that may rupture) with coils so they no longer fill with blood
  • Aneurysm clipping: A technique in which we place a surgical clip around the neck of a brain aneurysm to prevent blood from flowing into it
  • Carotid Endarterectomy: A vascular surgery to remove blockages in the carotid artery
  • Angioplasty/Stents: An endovascular option, whereby balloon angioplasty and implantable stents help keep arteries open
  • Intra-arterial thrombolysis: A process using a catheter, inserted into one of the major blood vessels in the leg and guided by a special video, to inject a clot-dissolving agent into clots in the brain
  • Stereotactic microsurgery: The use of sophisticated computer technology, cameras, and delicate instruments, to remove arteriovenous malformations 

Rehabilitation after Stroke

If brain tissue was damaged during a stroke, rehabilitation can be an important part of your recovery, and we find that your recovery improves if you start a rehabilitation program as soon as possible.

Our specialists are skilled in providing rehabilitation care that includes the following:

  • Physical therapy to help you regain as much movement as possible
  • Occupational therapy to assist in everyday tasks and self-care
  • Speech therapy to improve swallowing and speech challenges
  • Psychological therapy to improve mood and depression and anxiety

Prevention of Recurrent Stroke

With help, you can often change many of the risk factors for stroke. Experts estimate that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Lifestyle changes that can help reduce your chance of getting a stroke include:

  • Regular exercise
  • A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish
  • Limiting qualities of salt and fat in foods
  • Quitting smoking
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Following your doctor’s instructions regarding any medications you’re taking

Our Center’s neurologists work with a patient’s primary care physician to lower cholesterol levels or control blood pressure using various medications.