What are common complications of stroke?

A stroke occurs when either an artery leading to the brain is blocked (ischemic stroke) or as a result of bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke). Because the blood supply to the brain is interrupted in a stroke, damage to the brain may result. Depending on the nature of the stroke, complications from a stroke may be temporary or permanent.

Common complications include the following:

  • Neurological and circulatory: brain swelling, headaches, dizziness, seizures; blood clots in legs; risk of another stroke
  • Infection: pneumonia; urinary tract infection
  • Movement and muscle control: trouble with balance and walking; paralysis or difficulty working muscles, especially on one side (opposite from side of brain affected by the stroke); difficulty talking or swallowing because of muscle control in throat and mouth; bladder and bowel control
  • Sensing and feeling: pain, numbness, tingling; bed sores; sensitive to cold
  • Language: Difficulty communicating, especially with speech
  • Thinking and memory: memory loss and trouble understanding; a disconnect between thought and action
  • Emotional and psychological: Clinical depression; anger, frustration, grief, sadness; personality or behavior changes

Treatment for each of these complications will be individualized to the patient.

Strokes often lead to serious, life-changing complications that include:

  • paralysis or weakness on one side of the body
  • problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory
  • problems understanding or forming speech
  • difficulty controlling or expressing emotions
  • numbness or strange sensations
  • pain in the hands and feet
  • depression

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.