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HealthInfo Canterbury

What happens if I have a stroke?


Anyone who has stroke symptoms needs to go to hospital immediately. The sooner treatment is started, the less damage is done to your brain. This means there's less chance of a long-term disability.

When you first go to hospital with a stroke, you'll be seen in the Emergency Department. A medical or neurology team will care for you in hospital.

You may have a CT scan of your brain. This is the only way to tell whether a blood clot or bleed has caused the stroke.

Your treatment may include medication and occasionally surgery. The type of treatment depends on the cause of your stroke.

For a clot, you may be given medicines to break down clots in your blood. This is called thrombolysis treatment. You may also be given blood-thinning medicines (also called anticoagulants) to prevent another stroke These medicines include clopidogrel, dipyridamole and aspirin.

There's no specific medicine to reverse bleeding in the brain. Controlling blood pressure is important to reduce the chances of more bleeding.

A physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and speech-language therapist will usually assess you while you're in hospital.

After you're discharged from hospital, you'll probably need rehabilitation. You may need medication to help prevent future strokes. You may also need to make some lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of having another stroke. You can read more about this on the next page.

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On the next page: Life after a stroke

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2018.

Page reference: 54503

Review key: HISTK-21790