How does the location of a stroke affect its symptoms?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

If you experience a stroke on the left side of the brain, the right side of the body is affected, often resulting in numbness, tingling, etc. If the right side of the brain is injured, then the left side of the body is affected. A stroke in the back of the brain can affect vision, while a stroke in the front of the brain can impair speech.

This content originally appeared on

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die. Some types of strokes are ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke and a transient ischemic attack (mini stroke).

The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions. If a stroke occurs and blood flow can’t reach the region that controls a particular body function, that part of the body won’t work as it should. If the stroke occurs toward the back of the brain, for instance, it’s likely that some disability involving vision will result. The effects of a stroke depend primarily on the location of the obstruction and the extent of brain tissue affected.

Here are some signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

This content originally appeared on StoneCrest Family Physicians Blog.

Just about any part of the brain can cause swallowing problems and slurred speech. Smaller and medium strokes might affect a much more defined functional area of the brain.

For example, a stroke of less than one centimeter in the internal capsule, where all the nerves converge to go down the spinal cord, can cause extreme paralysis but not affect mental function, vision or anything else. Just because of its location, a small stroke can cause a big defect. What symptoms you get will depend on if the stroke is in a sensory part of the brain, a language part, or a motor part.

Continue Learning about Stroke Warning Signs & Symptoms

Stroke Awareness and Timely Action
Stroke Awareness and Timely Action
Roberto De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard at the 1968 Masters (the Argentinian’s score on the 17th hole was three, not four). He overlooked tha...
Read More
What are the signs that I might be having a stroke?
Frankfort Regional Medical CenterFrankfort Regional Medical Center
The acronym FAST—face, arm, speech, time—is a good tool for diagnosing a stroke.
More Answers
How can I distinguish a stroke from more common complaints?
Tulane Medical CenterTulane Medical Center
You may not be able to distinguish a stroke from more common complaints. Any new neurologic deficit ...
More Answers
How Do I Know If Someone Is Having a Stroke?
How Do I Know If Someone Is Having a Stroke?

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.