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Ask the Expert: Stroke Treatment

​​​​​​​​ Vivek A. Gonugunta, M.D.
Vivekananda A. Gonugunta, M.D.
Endovascular Neurosurgeon

Question: If I’m having a stroke, how soon do I need to get treatment?​

In recent years, your only hope for stopping a stroke in its tracks was if you got to a properly equipped medical center within three hours of initial symptoms.

Recently, Marshfield Clinic introduced an “intra-arterial” approach that allows us to treat many stroke patients up to six hours after onset and in selected cases even up to 24 hours.

Most strokes are caused by a blockage in a blood vessel going to the brain, or by a rupture of an aneurysm, a bubble-like growth in a vessel.

The affected area is damaged and its functions are harmed or even lost.

About two million brain cells die each minute when such a blockage occurs, increasing the chances of severe neurological deficit like complete paralysis, coma or death.

With the intra-arterial approach, we route a microcatheter to the brain from the leg.

This device, as narrow as a few strands of hair, can pull a clot out of the blocked blood vessel in the brain to re-establish circulation.

Clot-busting medication can also be delivered directly into the clot via this microcatheter.

It’s a remarkable new treatment that can prevent the stroke from progressing and even potentially reverse the deficit in some patients.

Warning signs of a stroke include:

  • Weakness, tingling, or a loss of feeling on one side of your face or body.
  • Vision problems such as double vision or trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Difficulty speaking, including slurred speech or problems understanding others.
  • A headache that is sudden and severe.
  • ​Movement problems such as dizziness, a spinning sensation, loss of balance, a feeling of falling, or blackouts.

If you have these potential stroke symptoms, don’t wait and don’t try to drive yourself. Call 911 immediately.

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If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Call: 1-866-520-2510

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 Stroke Video

How Much Do You Know About Stroke?

Stroke is a leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA). The ASA reports that strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. Find out more about stroke by taking this quiz, based on information from the AHA and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

1. What is another name for a stroke?
2. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain.
3. Which of these is a symptom of stroke?
4. Which of these lifestyle factors plays the biggest role in increasing the risk for stroke in younger adults?
5. If a person has an ischemic stroke, how quickly should the person be treated to minimize long-term problems?
6. Which type of medicine is given to help prevent a stroke?
7. Which of these may be a long-term problem after a stroke?