Complications that threaten a person's life may develop
stroke symptoms occur. Preventing these complications
is a major focus of initial stroke treatment.
Increased pressure on the brain, which develops
when the brain swells after a large stroke. Such swelling occurs quickly,
becomes most severe within 3 to 5 days after the stroke, and can cause death.
Pressure on the brain is more likely in people who have had a stroke caused by
a bleeding blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke).
Fever. This may make
a person's chance of recovery worse if the fever occurs at the same time as a
stroke. Fever may be a sign of an infection, such as pneumonia or a urinary
tract infection. Drugs that reduce fever (acetaminophen or aspirin) are often
used. But if these do not work, a special blanket that circulates cool air or
water may be needed.
High blood sugar (glucose). This often occurs
in people who have
diabetes. Very high or low blood sugar immediately
after a stroke interferes with proper brain cell function, increasing the risk
Blood pressure changes. People who have a stroke
usually will have higher blood pressure for at least 1 to 3 days after the
stroke. This may represent an attempt by the body to increase blood flow to the
part of the brain that is being affected by the stroke. Only very high blood
pressure is treated. If it occurs, very high blood pressure usually is brought
down slowly. A rapid drop in blood pressure can lead to more brain
Buildup of spinal fluid within the brain (
hydrocephalus). Fluid on the brain is more likely to
occur if the stroke was caused by bleeding (hemorrhagic
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerKarin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
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