A left sided stroke affects the right side of your body, whereas a right sided stroke affects the left side of your body. A stroke on the left side of the brain is more likely to affect your ability to speak and understand others.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to part of your brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. When this happens, your brain cells in the affected area are deprived of oxygen or damaged.

A stroke affects a particular part of your brain. Since different regions of your brain affect different bodily and cognitive functions, where a stroke occurs can cause distinctive symptoms.

A stroke that affects the left side of the brain usually results in speech and language issues, or symptoms of paralysis or sensory loss on the right side of your body.

It’s not clear if left sided strokes occur more often than right sided ones, but older studies have found that they tend to be seen more frequently in hospital settings.

This article takes a closer look at left-sided strokes, how they happen, the side effects, and what the outlook is for people who experience them.

The main portion of your brain, known as the cerebrum, is divided into two halves: the right and left hemisphere.

When there’s an interruption in blood supply to part of your brain, a stroke can occur in one hemisphere. This is known as an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke is the most common type, accounting for about 87% of all strokes.

A blood vessel rupture, which causes blood to leak out and put pressure on an area of brain tissue, can also cause a stroke. This is known as a hemorrhagic stroke.

When a stroke happens in a region of your brain, the opposite side of your body is affected. For instance, if you have a stroke in the left hemisphere of your brain, the right side of your body will be impacted.

A stroke that occurs on the left side of the brain may cause symptoms such as:

  • paralysis or numbness on the right side
  • trouble talking or communicating
  • cognitive changes, such as difficulty with calculations, concentration, and decision making
  • changes in behavior, such as slowness or cautiousness

How do the symptoms differ between a left and right-sided stroke?

A left sided stroke affects the right side of your body, whereas a right sided stroke affects the left side of your body.

Left sided strokes are more likely to affect speaking and language, while right sided strokes are more likely to cause problems with spatial orientation. For instance, you may have trouble understanding how to use objects, where your body fits into space, or recognizing your body.

Severe strokes that affect the left side of the brain can result in a condition called aphasia, which is characterized by difficulty speaking or understanding communication. The symptoms can be mild or severe.

Strokes that happen on the left or right side of the brain can cause behavior changes. Left sided strokes are more likely to cause you to be slower and more careful, while right sided strokes may cause aimless or confused movements.

Recovery from a stroke involves both treatment and rehabilitation. The sooner you get treatment for a stroke, the more likely you are to have a better outcome. That’s why it’s so important to get immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of a stroke.

If you call 911 or local emergency services, emergency stroke care will start in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. It will continue in the emergency room or at a stroke center at the hospital. The treatment will depend on the type of stroke you had.

Treatment for ischemic stroke

If you had an ischemic stroke, which is a stroke caused by blocked blood flow to the brain, the main treatment is intravenous (IV) tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). This medication breaks up blood clots.

According to guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, tPA is most effective if you receive it within 4.5 hours from the start of your stroke symptoms. But tPA can be unsafe if you have a high risk of bleeding or if it’s given more than 6 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.

Treatment for hemorrhagic stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a ruptured blood vessel in your brain. The blood that leaks out into surrounding brain tissue can put too much pressure on the brain cells in that region, leading to potential brain damage.

Treatment for a hemorrhagic stroke is focused on controlling the bleeding and easing the pressure caused by the bleeding. Medication may be able to slow down or stop the bleeding.

For a more severe stroke, surgery may be necessary to repair the ruptured blood vessel and ease pressure on the brain.

Rehabilitation after initial treatment

After the emergency period following a stroke, you’ll start rehabilitation. Depending on your symptoms and overall health, this usually occurs about 1 to 2 days after your initial care.

Rehabilitation involves learning how to recover the skills you may have lost and could include:

  • speech therapy to help with communication and language function
  • occupational therapy to help you learn skills so you can resume your day-to-day activities at home and work
  • physical therapy to help strengthen your muscles and improve your coordination and movement

Recovery from a left sided or right sided stroke depends on several factors, including:

  • how much brain damage occurred during the stroke
  • how quickly treatment was started
  • your age
  • whether you have other chronic health conditions

Above all, it’s important to keep in mind that recovery is a process — a process that might take days, weeks, or years. Some people are able to make a full recovery, while others experience varying degrees of lifelong disability after a stroke.

If you have a stroke, you’re at risk of having another one in the future. That’s why it’s very important to work closely with a doctor to manage conditions that can elevate your stroke risk, such as:

Lifestyle changes, such as increasing your physical activity, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, can also play a key role in lowering your risk of a stroke in the future.

If you have a stroke that affects the left side of your brain, you’ll notice symptoms such as weakness and paralysis on the right side of your body. Other symptoms may include difficulty talking or understanding others, as well as cognitive issues and behavior changes.

If a stroke happens on the right side of your brain, it can affect the left side of your body and may cause problems with spatial orientation.

If you notice any symptoms of a stroke, it’s essential that you dial 911 or local emergency services or get to a hospital’s emergency room immediately. The sooner a stroke is treated, the higher the likelihood of a better outcome.