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Stroke - disease information

Long term effects of a Stroke

The type and extent of a stroke’s long term effects depends on the amount of brain tissue that’s starved of oxygen when the stroke happens. Long term effects are also partly determined by your general health at the time of the attack.1 A large stroke can cause death, while a small stroke can cause minor problems which may disappear completely over time. In many cases, stroke effects are somewhere in between the two.

In the first few weeks after a stroke, the swelling and inflammation around the damaged brain tissue settles down, helping to improve some of the symptoms. Over time, you will normally experience further improvement. In some cases, cells just outside the affected area may compensate for the damaged cells. In other cases it’s possible for other parts of the brain to take over the functions from the damaged brain tissue.1 After stroke recovery, it’s common for some degree of disability to remain. You may require specialist long term stroke rehabilitation to regain the skills and abilities that have been lost.2

The left side of the brain controls language abilities including speech, comprehension, reading and writing. The right side is responsible for perceptual skills that include interpreting external stimuli, and spatial skills that judge speed, distance and space.1 For this reason, the type of long term effects that happen, and the level of stroke care required, depend on which the side of the brain has been affected.

Some of the long term repercussions of having a stroke include:1, 2

  • Dysphagia: Difficulty or discomfort when swallowing. This is because of an interruption of the normal swallowing reflex, which means that small food particles of food can enter your windpipe.
  • Weakness on one side of the body: This can cause problems with walking, or problems using the hands and arms.
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Speech difficulties: These can range from having difficulty finding the right word to say to being completely unable to speak.
  • Vision difficulties: These can include complications like double vision or losing half of the field of vision.
  • Difficulties with mental processes: These can include difficulty in learning, concentrating, or a loss of short or long term memory.
  • Fatigue
  • Inappropriate emotions: As an example, patients recovering from a stroke may laugh or cry at times for no apparent reason.

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Last Updated 27/11/2013 16:06:26