Time is essential. It is most important to seek treatment for sudden changes in the ability to move, sense, or think. If a stroke is treated in first few hours, a great improvement in outcome may be possible. If you wait even a few hours to see if if gets better, the chances of improved recovery are greatly lessened.
Clot busters. If a stroke patient can get to the emergency room within 4 hours, tpa (alteplase) can be given by vein in hopes of breaking up the clot blocking the brain artery. If the patient gets there before 6 to 8 hours, we can place a catheter within the artery in the brain and frequently be able to break up the clot that way. It is riskier, however.