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Ischemia, Cerebral

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Treating Cerebral Ischemia with Medication

There are several treatment options for a person with cerebral ischemia. The goal of treatment is to resolve the restriction in the arteries and restore proper blood flow, thus reducing the risk of a stroke.

Whenever possible, a neurosurgeon will recommend conservative treatment, which would address the narrowed arteries with medicine and lifestyle changes. Medications to manage high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and/or thin the blood may be prescribed to treat cerebral ischemia, as well as having the individual quit smoking, participate in an exercise routine, change poor eating habits, and manage stress.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), which produces similar symptoms as a stroke, is temporary but serves as a warning since one in three people with a TIA will go on to suffer a stroke.

Doctors use several medications to manage the factors that lead to cerebral ischemia and reduce the chances a person will suffer a stroke after a TIA. Medications to address blood clotting, such as the following, are often prescribed:

  • Anti-platelet drugs. These medications make your platelets (blood cells that bind together to fix damaged blood vessels) less likely to stick together and form clots. Aspirin is the least expensive and most common of these anti-platelet medicines. Other anti-platelet drugs may be prescribed alone or in combination.
  • Anticoagulants. These drugs target certain proteins that affect clotting.


Reviewed by: Dr. Philip E. Stieg
Last reviewed/updated: October 2020