A stroke can reduce your life expectancy, but factors like your age, type of stroke, and time to treatment can influence your outlook. Treatment within 3 hours of symptom onset is critical in helping improve your outcome.

Strokes are common, particularly in older adults. They can cause permanent brain damage and long-term disability and may reduce your life expectancy.

Some people can make a full recovery and live for many years after a stroke. For others, stroke complications have a pronounced effect on their quality of life and life expectancy.

It’s normal to wonder what the future holds after a stroke. This article explores life expectancy after a stroke and factors that affect your outlook.

Life expectancy after a stroke varies significantly from one person to the next.

Several large studies have examined stroke survival. While most find similar results, the results aren’t usually identical due to the different ages of participants or the types of strokes included in each study. Still, global research can point toward some trends.

Having a stroke reduces life expectancy

A 2022 study including more than 300,000 people in Australia and New Zealand found that having any type of stroke was associated with a 5.5-year reduction in life expectancy.

People who had a hemorrhagic stroke lost 7.4 years of life expectancy on average.

About half of people survive for at least 5 years after an ischemic stroke

A large 2019 Swedish study including people who survived at least 30 days after a first stroke found a 5-year survival rate of 49.4% for those who had an ischemic stroke.

For people who had an intracerebral hemorrhage, the 5-year survival rate was 37.8%.

A 2019 German study found similar results after 5 years. In that study, about 1 in 11 people die within 90 days of an initial stroke, and about 1 in 6 within a year.

Adults under age 50 have an increased risk of death for at least 15 years after a stroke

The authors of a 2019 Dutch study examined long-term outcomes in people ages 18–49 who survived for at least 30 days after a first stroke. They found that these people had a 5.5-fold increased risk of death within 15 years compared with the larger population.

Keep in mind these findings are based on averages, and there’s a wide range of variation in individual outcomes. To learn more about your outlook, talk with your doctor.

It can take months to years to recover after a stroke. Some people may never fully recover.

But even if you don’t regain all of your former abilities, stroke rehabilitation can help you maximize your independence and quality of life.

Rehabilitation usually begins in the hospital soon after your condition stabilizes.

Learn more about what to expect during stroke recovery.

Risk of a recurrent stroke

Having a stroke increases your risk of a future stroke. A 2019 German study found the following risks of a second stroke:

  • 1.2% within 30 days
  • 3.4% within 90 days
  • 7.4% within 1 year
  • 19.4% within 5 years
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A stroke can cause a wide range of complications. What occurs depends on the type of stroke, the affected brain region(s), and the severity of the stroke.

Some common complications include:

In the immediate aftermath of a stroke, it may not be clear which complications will resolve with time and which will be permanent.

Recovering from a stroke is a highly personal process that depends on a set of factors unique to your situation. It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take and what abilities you’ll regain. The process isn’t necessarily linear, either.

Your doctor can provide a more personalized outlook. They might consider:

  • Your age: Younger people tend to have a better outlook after a stroke than older adults.
  • Type of stroke: Ischemic strokes are typically associated with a more positive outlook than hemorrhagic strokes.
  • Stroke location: Strokes that affect the brain stem are associated with more severe complications.
  • Stroke severity: Having a large stroke that affects many areas of the brain can result in more significant disability or death than a stroke that affects a small area of the brain.
  • Time to treatment: People who receive treatment within 3 hours of the start of ischemic stroke symptoms have an increased chance of recovery.
  • Your health before the stroke: Having additional chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, can worsen your outlook.
  • If you’ve had another stroke: A 2022 study from Denmark suggests the risk of death increases with recurring stroke.
  • Your social support system: People with strong social support networks might be more likely to return to their former activities after a stroke, according to a 2019 study.
  • Your attitude and motivation: Your stroke recovery also depends on your ability to participate in the recommended therapies and make certain lifestyle changes.

Stroke survival rates by age

Older adults tend to have lower survival rates after a stroke. A 2019 French study found the following relative survival (RS) rates for people who had an ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke. The RS rate is the percentage of people with stroke still alive compared with people who have not had a stroke.

Age1-year RS (%)5-year RS (%)10-year RS (%)
under 65 years93.787.782.8
65–80 years86.074.658.2
80–85 years76.864.646.8
over 85 years64.049.834.2
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Can you live a normal life after a stroke?

It’s possible to return to your regular life after a stroke. But even if you regain all your abilities, you might need to change your diet, exercise more, or take medication. You might also find that having a stroke affects your outlook and priorities.

Is it possible to fully recover from a stroke?

Many people make a full recovery after a stroke. It’s important to seek emergency care as early as possible and follow your rehabilitation plan as best you can.

What happens in the first 3 days after a stroke?

In the first 3 days after a stroke, you’ll be in the hospital recovering. During this time, your care team monitors your health while also gathering more information about your stroke complications. You might undergo tests and start new treatments.

A stroke can reduce your life expectancy. But there’s a lot of individual variation in what’s possible after a stroke.

Some factors that influence your recovery are beyond your control, such as your age and the type of stroke you had. Other factors, such as your willingness to adopt lifestyle changes and participate in rehabilitation, can improve your outlook.

Although it’s impossible to say precisely how many years you will live, your healthcare team can help you understand what to expect going forward.