Brain Hemorrhage: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

A brain hemorrhage, also called cerebral hermorrhage is a type of stroke caused by an artery in the brain, bursting and causing localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues which end up killing the brain cells.

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Brain hemorrhage is also called intracranial hemorrhages, or intracerebral hemorrhages, they are responsible for about 13% of strokes.

What Happens During a Brain Hemorrhage?

When blood from trauma irritates brain tissues, it causes inflammation. This is known as cerebral edema. The pooled blood accumulates into a mass called a hematoma. These conditions increase pressure on nearby brain tissue, and that decreases vital blood flow and destroys brain cells.

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Bleeding can occur inside the brain, between the brain and the membranes that cover it, between the layers of the brain’s covering or between the skull and the covering of the brain.

What Causes Bleeding in the Brain?

There are several risk factors and causes of brain hemorrhages:

  • Head trauma. Injury to the head is the most common cause of bleeding in the brain for those younger than age 50.
  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure weaken blood vessel walls. Untreated hypertension is a major preventable cause of brain hemorrhages.
  • Aneurysm. This is a dwindling in a blood vessel wall that swells. It can burst and bleed into the brain, causing stroke to occur.
  • Blood vessel abnormalities. (Arteriovenous malformations) Weaknesses in the blood vessels in and around the brain may be present at birth and diagnosed only if symptoms develop.
  • Amyloid angiopathy. This is an abnormality of the blood vessel walls that sometimes occurs with aging and high blood pressure. It may cause many small, undetected bleeds before causing a big one.
  • Blood or bleeding disorders. Hemophilia and sickle cell anemia can both contribute to decreased levels of blood platelets.
  • Liver disease. This is associated with increased bleeding in general.
  • Brain tumors.

What Are the Symptoms of Brain Bleeding?

The symptoms of a brain hemorrhage can vary. They depend on the location of the bleeding, the severity of the bleeding, and the amount of tissue affected. Symptoms may develop suddenly or over time. They may gradually deteriorate or unexpectedly appear. The symptoms include:

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  • Changes in vision
  • Weakness in an arm or leg
  • A sudden severe headache
  • Seizures with no previous history of seizures
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of balance
  • Decreased alertness; lethargy
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty swallowing, writing or reading
  • Loss of fine motor skills, such as hand tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • An abnormal sense of taste
  • Loss of consciousness

Keep in mind that many of these symptoms are often caused by conditions other than brain hemorrhages.

How Is a Brain Hemorrhage Treated?

Your doctor can determine which part of the brain is affected based on your symptoms. Doctors may run a variety of imaging tests, such as a CT scan to reveal internal bleeding or blood accumulation. Also, the doctor may perform an MRI which is a neurological exam or eye exam, which can show swelling of the optic nerve. A lumbar puncture is usually not performed, as it may be risky and aggravate the condition.

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Treatment for bleeding in the brain depends on the cause, location, and extent of the hemorrhage. Surgery may be needed to relieve swelling and prevent bleeding. Certain medications may also be prescribed. These include painkillers, corticosteroids, or diuretics to reduce swelling, and anticonvulsants to control seizures.

Can People Recover From Brain Hemorrhages, and Are There Possible Complications?

How well a patient responds to a brain hemorrhage depends on the size of the hemorrhage and the amount of swelling.

Some patients recover completely. Possible complications include loss of brain function, stroke, or side effects from medications or treatments. Also, it is possible for death to quickly occur in spite of swift medical treatment.

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Can a Brain Hemorrhages Be Prevented?

You can reduce your risk in the following ways:

  • Treat high blood pressure. Most patients with cerebral hemorrhage have a history of high blood pressure. Taking proper diet, exercise, and medication can help reduce your risk.
  • If you smoke, quit and if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
  • Avoid using drugs like cocaine can increase the risk of bleeding in the brain.
  • If you ride a motorcycle, always wear a helmet.
  • Investigate corrective surgery. If you suffer from abnormalities, such as aneurysms, surgery may help to prevent future bleeding.
  • Drive carefully, and wear your seat belt.
  • Be careful with Coumadin or warfarin. If you take this drug, follow up regularly with your doctor.


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