The First Few Hours After a Stroke

The First Few Hours After a Stroke

Find Services and other Health Information from A-Z

The First Few Hours After a Stroke

When you have a stroke, time is crucial. If you have any stroke symptoms, go to the hospital right away. Do not delay! The earlier treatment is started after symptoms begin, the more likely you are to survive and recover. Your doctor can be alerted as you are traveling to the hospital. Any relatives or friends who were with you when your symptoms started should go with you to the hospital.

At the Emergency Room

In the hospital, a doctor will assess your symptoms and when they occurred. You will also be asked about your medical history. You’ll also be asked about your health and risk factors. Family or friends can answer if you cannot. Tests are then done. You will likely have blood tests. You may also have a CT scan or an MRI. This will help determine what kind of stroke you have. The 2 types are blockage (ischemic stroke) or bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke). The type is important to know before treatment is started. This is because treatment that helps an ischemic stroke can make a hemorrhagic stroke worse.

Acute-Phase Stroke Treatment

Treatment can begin as soon as your doctor knows what type of stroke you had and where it occurred, Phase 1 begins from the first minutes to the first hours after you begin having symptoms. It involves 1 or more of the following, depending on what kind of stroke you have:

  • Medication to dissolve clots (ischemic)

  • Medication to prevent blood clots (ischemic)

  • Tests to look for damage from the stroke

  • Procedures to stop bleeding (hemorrhagic)

The goal of the acute phase treatment is to minimize damage from the stroke. After the first several hours, treatment turns to your recovery and on preventing future strokes.

Symptoms of Stroke

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following, even if the symptom seems to get better:

  • Sudden weakness of the face or an arm, hand, or leg

  • Sudden numbness on 1 side of the body

  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in 1 eye

  • Sudden difficulty speaking

  • Sudden inability to understand what someone is saying

  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance

  • Sudden, excruciating headache, unlike headaches you’ve had before, or a severe headache accompanied by nausea and vomiting

  • Seizure

If you are at risk for having a stroke

  • Keep a list of important telephone numbers next to your phone. Include your doctor and relatives or friends you want to be contacted.

  • Carry a list of all medications you take, and the dosage of each, in your wallet. Include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

  • Write a brief medical history, including any other medical problems you have had and the dates. Keep this with the medication list.