A stroke happens when your brain doesn’t get the blood and oxygen it needs due to a blocked or burst blood vessel. Count on UNM Health’s expert, neurocritical care team to quickly identify the source of your stroke and provide advanced treatment to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
UNM Health neurologists may use one of the following tests to diagnose a stroke:
- Carotid ultrasound shows blockages in blood vessels in the neck and base of the brain.
- CT scan takes X-ray images from different points around your head.
- CT angiography uses a dye to show the brain’s blood vessels.
- MRI uses a powerful magnet to take pictures of the brain and its blood vessels.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
TIA (a warning stroke, or mini stroke) happens when a clot temporarily blocks blood flow to part of the brain and quickly dissolves. Producing temporary stroke symptoms, TIA usually causes no permanent damage. But you should always call 911 as soon as you notice warning signs of any stroke.
An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clot or gradual buildup of plaque and other fatty deposits. Brain cells get less oxygen and nutrients, and some brain cells die.
Ischemic Stroke Treatments
If blood clots are causing your stroke, you may receive:
- Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) – This clot-busting medication restores blood flow to the brain and must be administered within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms. At University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH), 92 percent of ischemic stroke patients get clot-dissolving medication within three hours, compared to the state average of 70 percent and national average of 83 percent.
- Endovascular thrombectomy – This procedure restores blood flow by using a tiny device to remove large blood clots in the brain. It’s available 24/7 in New Mexico exclusively at UNMH. Because this treatment can begin up to six hours after stroke symptoms start, there’s more time to airlift you to UNMH if you live outside the Albuquerque area.
A hemorrhagic stroke happens when an aneurysm, or weakened blood vessel, in the brain bursts, leaking blood into the brain and causing damage. The two types of hemorrhagic strokes are:
- Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), which involves blood leaking directly into the brain tissue.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), which involves bleeding in between the brain and skull.
Hemorrhagic Stroke Treatments
Your doctors may use one of the following procedures to treat hemorrhagic stroke:
- Aneurysm clipping places a metal clip at the base of the aneurysm to seal it.
- Coil embolization uses a catheter (thin, flexible tube) to place a coil into the aneurysm, causing a blood clot to form, block blood flow to the aneurysm and prevent another rupture.
- Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) repair removes or shrinks an AVM or blocks blood flow to the cluster of tangled blood vessels.