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Xarelto Stroke Complications

Life-Threatening Complications from Xarelto

Complications which could threaten a Xarelto user’s life may occur soon after the initial onset of stroke symptoms. Preventing these problems is the aim of stroke treatment. Complications of a stroke may include:

  • Pressure on the brain – Can occur when the brain swells after a massive stroke. This kind of swelling occurs rapidly, becoming most severe within three to five days after the stroke. Pressure on the brain is likely to occur in patients who have had a stroke caused by a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke).
  • Fever – Can make a patient’s outlook worse if the fever occurs at the same time as a stroke. Fever may be a symptom of pneumonia or a urinary tract infection. Over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and acetaminophen can be used to reduce fever. If these are ineffective, a special blanket that circulates cool air or water can be used.
  • High blood sugar – Typically occurs in patients with type 2 diabetes. Extremely high or low blood sugar immediately after a stroke affects brain cell function, increasing the risk of permanent damage.
  • Blood pressure changes – Most patients usually have higher blood pressure in the days following a stroke. This is the body’s attempt to increase blood flow to the region of the brain that was injured by the stroke.
  • Hydrocephalus – Buildup of spinal fluid in the brain. Hydrocephalus occurs most often in patients who have suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Vasospasm – Spasms of blood vessels that can occur if the stroke was caused by a subarachnoid hemorrhage from an aneurism.
  • Blood Clots – Clot in the legs (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) that may travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism, or PE)
  • Seizure – Sudden episode of abnormal electric activity in the brain. Stroke is the most common cause of seizure in elderly patients; about 10% of stroke survivors have a seizure after their stroke.
  • Coma – Prolonged state of unconsciousness caused by an injury to the brain. More than half of comas are related to head trauma or disturbances in the brain’s circulatory system, such as those caused by a stroke.
  • Another stroke – About 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year, nearly 200,000 of which are recurrent strokes.

At least 1 in 4 stroke victims will suffer another stroke at some point in their life.

How Can a Stroke be Treated?

Specific treatment for a stroke will be based on the patient’s age, overall health, medical history, and severity of the stroke. Although there is currently no cure for a stroke, recent medical advances and surgical treatments can give stroke victims hope for optimal recovery.

Emergency Treatments

Treatment is most effective when it is started immediately following the initial onset of symptoms. Emergency treatment options include:

Prescription medications called clot-busters can be used to dissolve blood clots that cause an ischemic stroke. These drugs are designed to reduce the damage to brain cells caused by a stroke. In order to be effective, clot-busters must be administered within a few hours of onset of symptoms.

Drugs and therapy to control swelling in the brain. Specialized intravenous (IV) fluids can be used to reduce or control brain swelling, especially after a hemorrhagic stroke.

Neuroprotective agents can help protect the brain from damage caused by lack of oxygen (ischemia).

Life support measures include treatment with ventilators, IV drugs, nutritional supplements and blood pressure control.

  • Surgical Treatment
  • Carotid endarterectomy – Procedure used to remove plaque and clots from the carotid arteries in the neck. These arteries supply the brain with oxygenated (red) blood from the heart. Endarterectomy may also help prevent a stroke from occurring.
  • Carotid stenting – A metal coil called a stent is inserted into the carotid artery and passed through the femoral artery to the area of blockage caused by the stroke.
  • Craniotomy – Type of brain surgery performed to remove blood clots or repair bleeding in the brain.
  • Surgery to repair aneurysms & arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) – An aneurysm is a weakened area on an artery wall that can rupture and cause bleeding in the brain. An AVM is a congenital disorder that consists of a tangled web of arteries and veins. This condition also increases the risk of rupturing and bleeding in the brain. Surgery to correct aneurysms can help prevent a stroke from occurring. This surgery involves placing clips on the aneurysm to prevent it from rupturing, or small coils curled up inside the aneurysm. The coils are inserted into the aneurysm through a catheter, which is moved through the arteries from a puncture site, usually through an artery in the groin. An AVM can be treated with special glues, which clot off blood vessels in the malformation.
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure – The foramen ovale is an opening in the wall between the 2 upper chambers of a baby’s heart before birth. It provides oxygenated (red) blood to the fetus from the mother’s placenta. The foramen ovale normally closes after the baby is born. If it fails to close, blood flows from the right atrium directly to the left atrium, then out to the rest of the body. If this blood has any clots or air bubbles in it, they can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. PFO closure can be performed through a percutaneous (through the skin) approach. Whether or not a PFO should be closed is a controversial issue, and recent studies are still trying to determine when and under what circumstances this should be done.