Hemorrhagic Stroke

What is hemorrhagic stroke?

Hemorrhagic stroke refers to an emergency where there is bleeding in the brain. This leads to damage and death of the nerve cells in the brain. This condition requires urgent review by a doctor. Common signs of stroke are drooping of one side of the face, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech or loss of any other function controlled by the brain. The likelihood of stroke strongly increases with age. Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability and death worldwide.

Risks

The risk of having a stroke strongly increases with age. Although hemorrhagic strokes can affect younger adults, the majority of strokes occur in people over 70 years of age. Many factors can increase the risk of stroke. Some medical conditions, most commonly high blood pressure or taking medication to thin the blood, increase the risk of having a stroke. Other medical conditions that may have an increased risk of stroke are blood clotting disorders, cancer (especially brain tumors), brain aneurysms or other causes of weak blood vessels. People who have already had one stroke have a higher risk of having a hemorrhagic stroke. People who drink alcohol, who smoke, or who take cocaine or amphetamines increase their risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke depend on the part of the brain affected. Common symptoms are a sudden, one-sided muscle weakness of the arm, leg and face, imbalance, slurred speech or difficulty speaking. Some people may have seizures. Other symptoms of stroke may be nausea and vomiting, or becoming drowsy and losing consciousness.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on the symptoms, physical examinations and a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain.

Treatment

Hemorrhagic stroke is an emergency which is managed in hospital. Urgent treatment may be needed to treat ongoing bleeding in the brain. Complications, such as seizures, may also need urgent treatment. Long-term treatment involves good management of high blood pressure and rehabilitation (usually intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy). Rehabilitation is important to help improve strength and help people learn to live with any disabilities following their stroke.

Prevention

Good management of high blood pressure may help to prevent hemorrhagic stroke. Reducing alcohol intake can also help prevent hemorrhagic stroke and recurrent stroke.