An ischemic stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency where a part of the brain is deprived of its blood supply due to a blockage in the feeding blood vessel. This blockage can be caused by a piece of fatty substance that travels to the affected vessel in the brain and becomes lodged. The blockage may also be caused by a clump of clotted blood that travels to the affected vessel and becomes lodged. Plaque buildup inside of the affected blood vessel in the brain can also result in or exacerbate an impending ischemic stroke. The brain cells are extremely demanding cells when it comes to blood, nutrients, and oxygen. When the brain cells become deprived of these elements, they become damaged and die within minutes. A stroke results in brain function loss that affects numerous organ systems and body parts. Various impairments caused by a stroke make treatment and recovery a lengthy process.
A patient who has an ischemic stroke requires immediate medical treatment, which may include the use of certain types of medications to help dissolve the blood clot that caused the stroke. This type of treatment is only effective if the patient reaches the hospital within three hours of the onset of their symptoms. The medicine given is called a thrombolytic medication, and it works through a mechanism where it activates plasminogen, a substance that produces plasmin. Blood clots are made of fibrin molecules, and plasmin can break the links that hold these fibrin molecules together. Thrombolytic medications work more effectively on a patient who has a stroke caused by a recently formed blood clot, as older blood clots have more links between the fibrin molecules the drug must break down. Because the medication is not specific to blood clots, it can cause side effects related to increased and prolonged bleeding.