How long does a stroke last?

Also known as a “brain attack,” a stroke may seem like a sudden occurrence that comes on as quickly as a lightning strike.

In reality, there is no set timeframe for strokes — some can last just minutes, while others can linger for hours or even days.

The faster your stroke is treated, the better your chances of survival, so it’s important to understand the symptoms of different types of strokes.

How Long Do Stroke Symptoms Last?

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes weak and bursts open, causing blood to leak into the brain.

Both of these types of strokes can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the part of the brain affected, including:

  • Sudden weakness
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, usually only on one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Confusion
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble walking
  • Dizziness

The severity and duration of stroke symptoms can vary from person to person. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or in someone else, seek medical attention immediately. Medication and surgical interventions can help treat stroke and increase the odds of survival and recovery.

What Is a ‘Mini-Stroke?’

Also known as a “mini-stroke,” a transient ischemic attack (TIA) has the same or similar symptoms as a full-blown stroke. The difference is that a TIA usually lasts just a few minutes and doesn’t always cause the same lasting impairments as a major stroke.

It is critical, however, to seek help for TIAs, too, because they are often warning signs that you could experience a serious, more severe stroke in the future.

To learn more about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, contact the UPMC Stroke Institute to schedule an appointment or ask a question at 412-232-8840.