Long-Term Survival Rate After a Stroke

A stroke occurs when oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or a blood vessel bleed. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability. Long-term outlook depends on many factors, including the type of stroke, its severity, and your overall health.

This article reviews the signs, prognosis, life expectancy, and side effects of strokes, and what life can look like after a stroke.

Women in rehab after a stroke

Types of Stroke

The three main types of strokes are:

  • Ischemic stroke: The most common type of stroke, ischemic strokes result from a clot that prevents oxygen-rich blood from flowing into the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: This type of stroke is due to blood vessels bleeding or rupturing. The bleeding puts pressure on brain cells and leads to brain cell death.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA): This is known as a ministroke. These differ from a significant stroke because symptoms usually only last for a few minutes to an hour.

Signs

Stroke symptoms may include:

  • Severe headache that occurs "out of the blue"
  • Facial drooping
  • Numbness and/or weakness of the legs, arms, and/or face (particularly on one side)
  • Vision issues in one or both eyes
  • Confusion, difficulty understanding speech, and trouble speaking
  • Difficulty walking, sudden incoordination, or loss of balance

Call 911 immediately if you notice any of the following "FAST" signs of a stroke:

  • F = Face drooping, including numbness and one-sided drooping
  • A = Arm weakness, including weakness and numbness, especially on one side
  • S = Speech slurring or difficulty
  • T = Time to call 911 fast and let the dispatcher know the time that symptoms began
1:30

Think FAST With a Stroke

Prognosis

Stroke

Stroke survivors will spend some time in the hospital to recover and rehabilitate. Many will require long-term physical, occupational, and speech therapy and need disability assistance.

Having access to certain treatments, such as tissue plasminogen activator, improves the chances of recovering from a stroke. The chances of preventing another stroke from occurring are improved by treating the underlying cause of the stroke, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and more.

Stroke Recurrence

Stroke survivors are at risk of having another stroke. About 1 in 4 stroke survivors will have another one within the following five years.

Ministroke

Even though the effects of a TIA appear to be temporary, they should be taken seriously because they are often followed by major strokes in the future. The chance of having another stroke within 90 days of a TIA is 17%, with the highest risk of occurrence during the first week.

Life Expectancy

Stroke

A 2021 study found that about 66% of stroke victims survived past the three-year mark. Survival factors included:

  • The person's age
  • Their overall health
  • Stroke severity

People with cerebrovascular disease (a group of conditions affecting blood flow and blood vessels in the brain) and heart disease were most likely to die before the three-year mark.

A 2018 study indicates that the type of stroke can also play a role in life expectancy after a stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke was found to result in a lower survival rate or lower level of functionality than ischemic stroke. The cumulative survival rate among all types of stroke in this study was found to be 48% at five years.

The study also found that age was a crucial factor for long-term survival after stroke. Older patients had less favorable outcomes.

Ministroke

Ministrokes are not life-threatening by themselves, as they lead to a full recovery in the short term. However, they are a sign of potentially significant health problems that put a person at a much higher risk of having a major stroke in the future.

Anyone who has stroke symptoms—even temporarily—needs to seek medical care as soon as possible.

Side Effects

Strokes can lead to physical, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Stroke survivors have residual health issues of the brain and body. Common disabilities that remain include:

  • Complete paralysis or weakness on one side of the body
  • Cognitive problems and issues with awareness, thinking, attention, memory, learning, and judgment
  • Speech difficulties and problems understanding speech
  • Emotional issues and depression
  • Strange sensations and numbness of the extremities

Recovery

Stroke type and severity will determine the kind of recovery a person requires. Rehabilitation may include working with a few different types of specialists, including:

  • Speech therapist: Helps stroke patients who have difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Physical therapist: Helps stroke patients with exercises that help them relearn physical movement and coordination
  • Occupational therapist: Helps stroke patients with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, eating, drinking, reading, and writing

Many stroke patients also struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Therapy or support groups can help stroke victims come to terms with their prognosis and adjust to a new normal after a stroke.

Talk with your healthcare provider to find stroke support groups and mental health providers specializing in stroke recovery.

Life After a Stroke

Life may feel daunting in the weeks and months following a stroke. Some people recover more quickly. However, others may require months to years of rehabilitation.

Some of the residual effects of a stroke that patients may have include:

  • Difficulty with memory, thinking, awareness, attention, learning, and judgment
  • Difficulty with speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble controlling or expressing emotions
  • Bladder and bowel control issues
  • Paralysis, weakness, or numbness (or all three) on one side
  • Extremity pain, especially in the hands or feet and especially in cold weather
  • Difficulty with chewing or swallowing
  • Depression and anxiety

Rehabilitation can help stroke victims regain their strength and help them feel more confident completing everyday tasks.

Summary

A stroke occurs when oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or a blood vessel bleed. Post-stroke prognosis and life expectancy depends on several factors, including the type of stroke, its severity, the person's age, and their overall health. Stroke survivors are also at risk of having another stroke in the following years.

A Word From Verywell

A stroke is a frightening and challenging life event. Coping with the long-term effects may seem overwhelming or discouraging at times. Know that there are healthcare professionals, treatments, and resources available that can help. Work with your healthcare providers to manage symptoms, relearn skills, and find ways to adapt to your new circumstances. You might find it helpful to gather a support network that understands your stroke recovery struggles.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you die from a stroke?

    Yes. Every year in the United States, about 795,000 people have strokes and 137,000 of those people die. Also, 185,000 people who survive a stroke will have another stroke within five years.

  • Can you prevent a stroke?

    Strokes are preventable with healthy lifestyle choices, including:

    • Eating a healthy diet
    • Maintaining a healthy weight
    • Physical activity
    • Not smoking
    • Drinking little or no alcohol
  • Is a heatstroke the same as a brain stroke?

    No. A heatstroke is an illness that occurs when the body's temperature rises rapidly and the body is unable to control its temperature. During a heatstroke, the body's sweating mechanism fails and is unable to cool itself.

    A brain stroke occurs when oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain becomes blocked by a clot or a blood vessel bleed.

  • How are high blood pressure and strokes related?

    Most people who have a first-time stroke also have high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure damages blood vessels in the body and brain, making them more likely to clog or burst. Managing hypertension is an essential way to help prevent your risk of stroke.

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13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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