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A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot or bursts, causing the brain to starve. If deprived of oxygen for even a short period of time, the brain nerve cells will start to die. Once the brain cells die from a lack of oxygen, the part of the body that section of the brain controls is affected through paralysis, language, motor skills, or vision.
Stroke is third leading cause of death in United States, behind high blood pressure and cancer .
Every 45 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke.
Every three minutes someone dies from a stroke.
Prevention and Carotid Stenting
As vascular experts, interventional radiologists treat atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, throughout the body. In some patients, atherosclerosis, specifically in the carotid artery in the neck, can lead to ischemic stroke. Plaque in the carotid artery may result in a stroke by either decreasing blood flow to the brain or by breaking loose and floating into a smaller vessel, depriving a portion of the brain of blood flow. In patients at high risk of having a stroke, the narrowed section of artery may be reopened by an interventional radiologist through angioplasty and reinforced with a stent, thereby preventing the stroke from occurring. Vascular stents are typically made of woven, laser- cut or welded metal that permits the device to be compressed onto a catheter and delivered directly into the hardened artery. In addition to diagnosing and treating those at risk for stroke, interventional radiologists use their expertise in imaging, angioplasty and stenting to treat those having an acute stroke. Patients can also take action to prevent strokes by:
- Stop smoking.
- Controlling high blood pressure.
- Lowering cholesterol levels.
- Maintaining healthy weight.
- Utilizing appropriate medications like aspirin, prescription drugs like anticoagulants.
- Treating carotid artery disease.
Treating un ruptured cerebral aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation
Treatment to Dissolve Blood Clots
If the stroke is due to a blood clot, a clot-busting drug, tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can be given intravenously to break up or reduce the size of blood clots to the brain. This technique must be performed within three hours from the onset of symptoms.
When therapy cannot be initiated within three hours or when treatment with tPA during the first three hours is not sufficient to dissolve the blood clot, interventional radiologists (IR) that specialize in neurological procedures can provide intra-arterial thrombolysis treatment.
Treatment for Hemorrhagic Stroke
Interventional neuroradiologists can also treat ruptured aneurysms inside the brain causing hemorrhage into the subarachnoid space, which can cause stroke or death. During the embolization technique, an interventional neuroradiologists inserts a catheter through a nick in the skin of the groin and advances it to the site of the ruptured blood vessel. An embolizing agent (a substance that clots or closes off the bleeding blood vessel) is injected under X-ray guidance. Most commonly, tiny metal coils are used to embolize and block the abnormal blood vessel or aneurysm. The catheter is withdrawn and the coils remain to provide the occlusion. The same technique can be used to treat aneurysms and AVMs before they rupture. Surgery had been the primary treatment available until the platinum coil device was approved by the FDA in 1995.