What Are the Potential Complications of Stroke?

A stroke can cause difficulty with swallowing and digestion, mood and memory disturbances, and issues with muscles and coordination. Rehab after a stroke can frequently help reduce consequences.

A substantial interruption of blood flow to a specific area of the brain is known as a stroke. The region of the brain affected and the length of time blood flow was blocked determine the potential complications following a stroke.

There could be multiple post-stroke issues because practically every bodily function is controlled by the brain. These are a few of the most typical post-stroke issues along with treatment and management suggestions.

Muscle weakness and paralysis

Paralysis and muscle weakness are common side effects of strokes, usually affecting one side of the body. This condition, which is referred to as hemiparesis, can make it difficult to walk, balance, grip, and use your hands for other precise actions.

The following therapies may be used to restore some or all of your muscle power and coordination:
  • cortex stimulation, in which rehabilitation exercises activate electrodes on the dura, the thick covering surrounding the brain
  • electrical stimulation
  • modified constraint-induced treatment, in which nerve damage is repaired by making you use the afflicted muscles
Stroke survivors can also benefit from the use of assistive equipment, such as braces, walkers, and canes, to increase their muscle function and strength.

Difficulty with speech

Your speech and language centres may suffer damage from a left-sided stroke. Aphasia is the name of this condition, which can cause difficulties with speaking, writing, or understanding written or spoken language.

Speech issues following a stroke may arise from injury to the tongue or larynx (voice box), independent of language or perception issues.

Specific issues can be addressed with the aid of speech and language therapy.

Vision difficulties

According to the American Stroke Association, certain vision issues affect about 65% of stroke survivors. Possible complications include:
  • vision loss
  • dry eye
  • conditions affecting eye movement, such as double vision, nystagmus, or crossed eyes
  • spatial inattention, which prevents you from processing visual information on the stroke-affected side
Treatment options for visual impairments following a stroke include:
  • vision rehabilitation exercises such as scanning
  • Prisms to supplement current glasses, altering the visual representation of objects in your range of vision
  • physical and occupational therapy
Partial vision loss can sometimes be reversed, however most people never fully recover.

Difficulty swallowing

According to the Stroke Association of the United Kingdom, approximately 50% of stroke survivors experience dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, at first. Malnourishment and aspiration are two further issues that dysphagia can cause.

When food or liquids enter the lungs through the airways rather than the oesophagus and stomach, this condition is known as aspiration. According to research, among stroke survivors, aspiration is the main cause of pneumonia.

After a stroke, speech and language therapists can help you become more proficient at swallowing.

Memory loss

The following memory types may be impacted by post-stroke memory loss:
  • informational: difficulties acquiring new material and having issues remembering abilities and facts
  • verbal: having trouble remembering names and vocabulary and language-related information
  • visual: difficulty recognising forms, faces, and other objects
Decision-making, focus, and other cognitive skills issues could also arise.

Throughout the first several months following a stroke, memory issues may go away on their own or with treatment. Certain forms of memory loss and cognitive impairments, however, might not improve.

Vascular dementia is another risk factor that is raised by stroke.

Psychological symptoms

Following a stroke, depression symptoms frequently appear. A fear of what lies ahead for you and your loved ones might make you feel depressed and gloomy. As the long-term effects of stroke complications become more apparent, these emotions may occasionally get worse over time.

According to a 2018 study, roughly half of all stroke victims have some kind of long-term disability, which can also have an impact on a person's mental health.

Enrolling in an online or in-person stroke support group and receiving mental health counselling may help you and your carers learn useful coping mechanisms and lessen some of the symptoms of worry and sadness.


Limited mobility and prolonged bed rest might lead to the development of pneumonia. Lung function can be impacted by a stroke, making it more challenging to discharge mucus or allergens from your airways.

You may be more prone to let food particles or liquids into your lungs if you have dysphagia, which raises the risk of pneumonia.

Following a stroke, doctors may advise you to do the following to control or reduce your risk of pneumonia:
  • antibiotics
  • beta-blockers
  • statins
  • vitamin E
  • cilostazol

Urinary tract infections

According to a 2017 assessment of the literature, around 1 in 5 stroke victims experience a urinary tract infection (UTI). This frequently happens following extended catheter use while a patient is in the hospital.

Antibiotics may be prescribed by a physician to treat or prevent UTIs following a stroke.

Bowel and bladder issues

Following a stroke, unpleasant and annoying consequences include:
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • urinary incontinence
According to a 2019 evaluation, addressing bladder and bowel function as soon as possible after a stroke will help you have a better quality of life.

How can I prevent stroke complications?

It is impossible to predict with certainty which complications will arise after a stroke. Enrolling in a stroke rehabilitation programme can hasten your recovery or lessen the impact of complications.

It's also critical to take action to enhance your cardiovascular health. It might lessen the impact of problems and assist you avoid having another stroke in the future.

How can I prevent a secondary stroke?

The following steps are advised by experts to help prevent either a primary or secondary stroke:
  • Consume a heart-healthy diet, such as the DASH or Mediterranean diets.
  • Make an effort to exercise most, if not every, day of the week.
  • 7–9 hours of sleep per night is the ideal.
  • Maintain safe values for blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
  • If you drink, cut back on how much you drink.
  • Consult a physician before beginning an aspirin or cholesterol-lowering drug regimen.
  • Manage stress.
  • Quit smoking if you do.


Recovery after a stroke is not always predictable. There could be setbacks following weeks or months of progress. It's also possible for new issues to arise that weren't there or were extremely small just after a stroke.

Certain individuals undergo brief episodes of involuntary recuperation, particularly during the initial months. Consistent progress can also be achieved with stroke rehabilitation and a sustained commitment to activities and lifestyle modifications intended to aid in recovery and management of aftereffects.

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