Choosing Wisely

Preventing Seizures After an Ischemic Stroke

When you need medicine—and when you don’t

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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.



Advice from Consumer Reports

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. To learn more about the sources used in this report and terms and conditions of use, visit