by EBSCO Medical Review Board

A stroke is treated based on type and severity. The goals are to bring back blood flow, lower harm, and stop it from happening again. Getting treated right away can lower the amount of harm. A person having a stroke should seek emergency medical services right away.

For ischemic stroke, clot-busting medicine can open blood vessels and bring back blood flow to the brain. This can lower or stop harm to the brain. The results are best when it is given early.

  • If care is given within four and a half hours of when stroke signs start, then clot-busting medicine may be given through IV.
  • If care is given within six hours of when stroke signs start, then intra-arterial (IA) clot-busting medicine may be used. IAs are given to the clot through a tube.
  • Special clot retrieval devices may also be used to remove blood clots blocking flow to parts of the brain.

These methods are not used for hemorrhagic strokes. They are treated by trying to slow or stop bleeding.

Rehabilitation will be needed after a stroke. It will mean working to get back or learn skills that may have been lost, such as talking, walking, or the use of an arm or leg. It can take days, weeks, or months. It can also last years.

A health care team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health workers will be needed during treatment.

Treatment involves:

Lifestyle changesMedicationsSurgeryOther treatments—rehabilitation


Chang P, Prabhakaran S. Recent advances in the management of acute ischemic stroke. F1000Res. 2017. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.9191.1.

Long-term management of stroke. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed March 14, 2022.

Stroke. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed March 11, 2022.

Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. Accessed March 11, 2022.

Types of stroke and treatments. American Stroke Association website. Available at: Accessed March 14, 2022.

Winstein CJ, Stein J, Arena R, et al, American Heart Association Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Clinical Cardiology, and Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research.. Guidelines for Adult Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery: A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2016 Jun;47(6):e98-e169 full-text, corrections can be found in Stroke 2017 Feb;48(2):e78 and Stroke 2017 Dec;48(12):e369.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review BoardRimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 11/2021
  • Update Date: 03/14/2022