6 Health Complications that May Arise After a Stroke

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It is not unusual to have to address a variety of physical and neurological complications after suffering a stroke. These complications range from permanent damage to temporary nuisances, largely dictated by the size and severity of the stroke event. Here are six of the most common health complications that may arise after a stroke.

Brain Edema

Brain edema is one of the most serious complications of a stroke. This swelling in the brain is triggered by the build-up of fluid, impacting the normal flow of blood and oxygen. This life-threatening condition necessitates immediate treatment.

Symptoms of brain edema include breathing difficulties, memory loss, intense headache, nausea and vomiting, and vision changes. A seizure or challenges moving the body are some of the most telling symptoms. While this is a serious issue, it can usually be treated through a variety of medications, surgery to relieve the pressure or the draining of the cerebral spinal fluid.

Foot Drop

Foot drop is an often debilitating condition that comes as a result of a stroke. Individuals dealing with this condition find that they cannot raise the front portion of the foot due to the weakness or total paralysis of the muscle used in lifting this part of the body.

Those with foot drop tend to drag their foot along the ground, resulting in unsteady walking and difficulty standing. To compensate for the loss of muscle control, people often change their gait. A drop foot brace is a useful tool because it provides support to the ankle so that the toes are aligned with the foot. This prevents the drag associated with this condition.

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection, most commonly referred to as a UTI, happens after a stroke due to the issue that many patients encounter controlling the bladder. A UTI can happen in the bladder, urethra, or kidneys.

Symptoms to look out for include pressure or pain in the lower abdomen, a burning sensation while urinating, cloudy or bloody urine, or fever. After treating the UTI with antibiotics, your doctor may recommend a bladder training program to address the incontinence.


Not all of the complications associated with stroke are physical in nature. Clinical depression is a mental illness that often pops up in people going through the recovery process after a stroke.

Depression symptoms include loss of interest in activities that used to bring you joy, feeling empty or sad for no discernible reason, fatigue and low energy, changes to sleep habits, and appetite changes. Depression can be treated through a combination of medication, therapy, and coping strategies. Many people find comfort and assistance by joining a stroke support group where they can find camaraderie navigating the same difficult road.


Pneumonia is a side effect of many major health issues, including stroke. This infection directly impacts the flow of air in one or both of the lungs, causing breathing problems, fever, cough, chills, and more. While doctors are well-versed in treating pneumonia, it is important to seek treatment immediately before the infection worsens.

Most cases of pneumonia are treated with antibiotics. Your doctor may also recommend a combination of breathing exercises and respiratory therapy as a preventative measure after suffering a stroke. Getting on top of the potential issue can be instrumental for patients that are recovering from a stroke, particularly if your health history indicates that you may be at risk for developing pneumonia.


Bedsores form when a person is rendered immobile. The injuries to the skin and underlying tissue happen as a result of increased pressure on some parts of the body. Bedsores are most typically found on the shoulders, back, tailbone, and hips. While bedsores may be a nuisance for some patients, they can quickly develop into serious health issues.

The patient's caretaker will need to frequently turn the body to relieve the pressure on the affected areas. Other treatment recommendations include nourishing the body with the right foods and properly cleaning any resulting wounds.

Bottom Line

Identifying and treating these complications as quickly as possible will help you to mitigate the damage triggered by the stroke. This is why it is important to stay in contact with your physician during the time following the stroke event.

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