Ischemic stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. Thrombolytic therapy (tissue plasminogen activator: tPA) is a strong clot-busting medication, given intravenously, that dissolve the blood clot and reconstitute the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is most effective when given within the first 4.5 hours from the stroke onset. It is the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for acute ischemic stroke. Its quick administration can help restore blood flow to the brain within just a few minutes.
Most hospitals can apply tPA to break down the blood clot that’s causing the ischemic stroke if the patient qualifies and is within the three-hour window since symptoms began. The drug can be administered intravenously (IV tPA) or directly to the site of the blockage in the brain through a catheter inserted via the groin. This intra-arterial approach is especially beneficial for patients who have recently had surgery, are on blood thinners, or might have missed the critical three-hour window.
Prior to receiving treatment with tPA, you should expect to have a brain computerized tomography (CT) scan.3 This is because there are several medical conditions that make it too dangerous for you to receive tPA. If you have any of these conditions, not only would tPA not help you, it could cause significant harm to your health. Conditions that would make you ineligible to receive treatment with tPA include:3 Hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) Brain aneurysm or AVM Recent surgical procedure Head injuries Bleeding or blood clotting disorders Bleeding ulcers Pregnancy Blood-thinning medication Trauma Uncontrolled high blood pressure
While tPA has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of stroke, there is a risk associated with tPA treatment, even for people who have been medically cleared for tPA. It is a powerful blood thinner, and serious side effects may occur, including the following: -Hemorrhage (bleeding) affecting the brain: Causes headaches, weakness, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures -Hemorrhage of the digestive system: Causes blood in the stool or stomach pain -Severe blood loss: Causes lightheadedness, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness -Minor bleeding in the gums or nose -Blood in the urine
What are some of the recognizable symptoms when myself or somebody has a stroke?
The best way to maximize your chances of receiving the most effective treatment for a stroke is to get to the emergency room as soon as possible. A person who is having a stroke may not notice when they are experiencing symptoms. You can learn how to recognize a stroke so that you can get immediate help. Don’t wait for the symptoms to disappear. The sooner a stroke is treated, the fewer the long-term effects. Symptoms of a stroke include: -Trouble understanding words or speaking -Numbness of the arm, face, or leg -Blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes -Double vision -Sudden, severe headache -Vomiting -Dizziness -Difficulty walking -Loss of balance or coordination -Weakness of the face, arm, or leg -Droopy face or eyelid -Confusion
How does TPA work?
TPA is a naturally occurring protein found on endothelial cells, the cells that line blood vessels. It activates the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin, an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of clots, helping restore blood flow to the brain.2 It is a powerful medication that must be administered by an experienced medical team.