Long-term effects of stroke can include physical effects, cognitive effects, personality changes, and emotional effects. Different kinds of therapy can help with recovery after a stroke.

A stroke occurs when there is a blood clot or bleeding in a blood vessel, blocking blood flow to the brain. It can affect people of any age and can cause long-term complications. Recovery is possible but depends on the stroke’s severity and a person’s overall health.

The American Stroke Association (ASA) states that stroke is the fifth cause of death in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a stroke is treatable, and a person can take certain measures to reduce their risk of having one. However, it can cause permanent disability in adults.

Read on to learn about the long-term effects of stroke and what recovery involves.

Learn more about stroke.

A person with a walking stick experiencing the effects of long stroke.Share on Pinterest
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There are various long-term physical effects of a stroke. They include the below.


Paralysis refers to the loss of voluntary muscle movement. It usually occurs on the side of the body opposite to the side of the brain that the stroke has damaged. Therefore, a person who has experienced a left hemisphere stroke may have impaired muscle movement on the right side of their body.

Rehabilitation and therapy can help improve movement even years after the stroke.

In some cases, paralysis can be severe. An example of severe paralysis is locked-in syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that occurs when there is damage in the brainstem. It can develop following a hemorrhagic stroke, which involves brain damage from bleeding in the brain, or an ischemic stroke, when the body stops supplying blood to the brain.

People with locked-in syndrome are usually aware of what is happening around them but cannot speak, move, or show facial expressions. They can only communicate through eye movements or blinking.

Learn more about brainstem stroke.

Sensory loss

Sensory loss is another problem that a person may experience after a stroke.

Those with sensory loss may no longer be sensitive to touch, pain, or temperature. They may also be unable to recognize what object they are holding. Limb numbness is also common.

Another example of sensory disturbance that occurs in people who have had a stroke is reduced bowel control. People may have difficulty controlling bowel movements and reaching the restroom on time.

Some individuals may also receive a diagnosis of chronic pain syndrome, which results from muscle weakness. This is common in people who have not moved their joints for a long time.


According to a 2018 review, persistent headaches can affect up to 23% of people who have experienced an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. Persistent headache is more common in females and people with:

A 2020 review considers headaches after a stroke to be a type of chronic post-stroke pain.

Emotional disturbances are common post-stroke symptoms that can affect a person’s quality of life.


Many people have depression after a stroke. Due to brain damage, they are more likely to express negative thoughts. Depression may also be a reaction to the permanent damage resulting from the stroke.

People with post-stroke depression may experience:

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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According to the American Heart Association (AHA), post-stroke anxiety symptoms can appear 2–8 weeks following a stroke and are more common in females than in males.

A 2016 review explains that people with post-stroke anxiety tend to experience extreme anxiety and worry. They may also have difficulties controlling their symptoms.

Doctors may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs to treat post-stroke anxiety. However, there is limited research on how a person can manage anxiety after a stroke.

Long-term cognitive effects of a stroke include the below.


An older 2014 study notes that memory loss is common after having a stroke, and there is a high risk of developing dementia within 1 year.

There is a link between vascular dementia and left-hemisphere stroke, which affects how a person thinks or plans.

It can be difficult for a person to be independent with vascular dementia. However, doctors may suggest the following steps to help manage symptoms:

  • taking notes or creating to-do lists
  • consulting a speech therapist
  • participating in social groups with people who have the same health condition


Aphasia is a language disorder that results from damage to a specific area in the brain that controls language expression, reading, and writing. It can develop after a stroke, head injury, or due to a brain tumor.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders suggests that there are also about 1 million people with this condition in the U.S.

The CDC estimates that 1 in 4 people who have had a stroke will develop another within 5 years. It highlights the importance of treating the health problems responsible for these events. These health issues include high blood pressure, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation, which refers to an irregular heart rhythm.

The CDC also states that recovery is possible after a stroke, but lingering difficulties, such as paralysis or trouble speaking, may remain.

According to a 2018 longitudinal study, life expectancy depends on the type of stroke a person experiences. For example, hemorrhagic strokes may have a lower survival rate than ischemic strokes.

Read our tips for recovering communication skills after a stroke.

People who have had a stroke may need to recover in the hospital. They may also require the help of a:

Some people may also experience mental health conditions after a stroke. A therapist may be able to help a person adjust to the new changes in their life.

People who have had a stroke may find it helpful to join a support group to meet others who have also had a stroke.

Support from a caregiving family member, friend, or healthcare professional may also be beneficial. A caregiver can facilitate communication with the hospital team. They may also arrange for transportation and therapy and help manage medications.

A stroke can cause several long-term problems, such as memory loss, loss of movement, muscle weakness, or speech problems.

People who have had a stroke are also more likely to have another later in life.

Rehabilitation can help people regain their movements and confidence, but their progress may depend on the person and type of stroke.