Preventing Seizures After an Ischemic Stroke

When you need medicine—and when you don’t

An ischemic (iss-keem-ik) stroke is the most common type of stroke. A blood vessel gets blocked so that it can’t send blood to a part of the brain. This injures the brain and can cause a seizure.

A seizure causes:

  • Involuntary body movements.
  • Strange sensations.
  • Blackouts.

Some doctors routinely prescribe anti-seizure medicine after an ischemic stroke. But this treatment is not usually necessary. And the medicine may do more harm than good. Here’s why:

Anti-seizure medicine won’t help.

There’s no evidence that taking anti-seizure medicine after an ischemic stroke will prevent a seizure or help you recover. If you don’t have a seizure right after the stroke, you probably won’t have one. The medicine isn’t necessary.

The medicine has side effects.

Anti-seizure medicines can have unpleasant side effects, including:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dulled senses (feeling foggy)
  • Problems with concentration, attention, and focus

The medicine can be expensive.

The costs of these medicines vary a lot, depending on your insurance. You can pay from $15 to $700 for a 30-day supply.

When do you need anti-seizure medicine after a stroke?

The medicine may be helpful if you have already had a seizure after an ischemic stroke. The medicine may help prevent a second seizure.

This report is for you to use when talking with your health-care provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.

© 2015 Consumer Reports. Developed in cooperation with the AANS/CNS Cerebrovascular Section of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.