Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Stroke Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

What Happens

When you have an ischemic stroke, the oxygen-rich blood supply to part of your brain is reduced. With a hemorrhagic stroke, there is bleeding in the brain.

After about 4 minutes without blood and oxygen, brain cells become damaged and may die. The body tries to restore blood and oxygen to the cells by enlarging other blood vessels (arteries) near the area.

Recommended Related to Stroke

Understanding Stroke -- the Basics

When the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or blocked for any reason, the consequences are usually dramatic. Control over movement, perception, speech, or other mental or bodily functions is impaired, and consciousness itself may be lost. Disruptions of blood circulation to the brain may result in a stroke -- a disorder that occurs in two basic forms, both potentially life-threatening. Clots near the brain. About three-quarters of all strokes are due to blockage of the oxygen-rich...

Read the Understanding Stroke -- the Basics article > >

If blood supply isn't restored, permanent damage usually occurs. The body parts controlled by those damaged cells cannot function.

This loss of function may be mild or severe. It may be temporary or permanent. It depends on where and how much of the brain is damaged and how fast the blood supply can be returned to the affected cells. Life-threatening complications may also occur. This is why it's important to get treatment as soon as possible.

Recovery

Recovery depends on the location and amount of brain damage caused by the stroke, the ability of other healthy areas of the brain to take over for the damaged areas, and rehabilitation. In general, the less damage there is to the brain tissue, the less disability results and the greater the chances of a successful recovery.

Stroke is the most common nervous-system–related cause of physical disability. Of people who survive a stroke, half will still have some disability 6 months after the stroke.

You have the greatest chance of regaining your abilities during the first few months after a stroke. Regaining some abilities, such as speech, comes slowly, if at all. About half of all people who have a stroke will have some long-term problems with talking, understanding, and decision-making. They also may have changes in behavior that affect their relationships with family and friends.

After a stroke, you (or a caregiver) may also notice:

Long-term problems

Long-term complications of a stroke, such as depression and pneumonia, may develop right away or months to years after a stroke.

Some long-term problems may be prevented with proper home treatment and medical follow-up. For more information, see Home Treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Understanding Stroke
SLIDESHOW
Lowering Blood Pressure Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
most common stroke symptoms
ARTICLE
Stroke Recovery
ARTICLE
 

brain scans
Quiz
woman with migraine
Article
 
brain scan
Article
quit smoking tips
Slideshow
 

Heart Foods Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Soy For High BP
VIDEO
 
BP Medicine
VIDEO
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 

WebMD Special Sections