Hemorrhagic Stroke Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

A hemorrhagic stroke is also called an intracerebral hemorrhage, or an ICH. An ICH occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and blood accumulates in the tissue around the rupture. This puts pressure on the brain and causes a loss of blood to the surrounding areas.

Immediate medical treatment is important for the best odds of recovery. Prevention is also important. If you control your risk factors, you can greatly reduce your odds of having any type of stroke.

Symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke that occurs inside your brain is also called an intracerebral hemorrhage. Symptoms of an ICH can vary from person to person, but are almost always present immediately after the stroke occurs. Symptoms may include:
total or limited loss of consciousness
sudden and severe headache
weakness or numb feeling in the face, leg, or arm on one side of the body

Causes of a hemorrhagic stroke. There are two possible causes of a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. The most common cause is an aneurysm. An aneurysm occurs when a section of a blood vessel becomes enlarged from chronic and dangerously high blood pressure or when a blood vessel wall is weak, which is usually congenital. This ballooning leads to thinning of the vessel wall, and ultimately to a rupture. A rarer cause of an ICH is an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). This occurs when arteries and veins are connected abnormally without capillaries between them. AVMs are congenital. This means they are present at birth, but they are not hereditary. It is unknown exactly why they occur in some people.

Emergency treatment for a hemorrhagic stroke. Immediate emergency care is crucial for a hemorrhagic stroke. This treatment focuses on controlling the bleeding in your brain and reducing the pressure caused by the bleeding. Drugs can be used to reduce blood pressure or to slow down the bleeding. If you experience a hemorrhagic stroke while on blood thinners, you are at particular risk for excessive bleeding. Drugs to counteract the effect of the blood thinners are usually given right away during emergency treatment.

Surgical treatment. Once a hemorrhagic stroke is brought under control with emergency care, further treatment measures can be taken. If the rupture is small and produces only a small amount of bleeding and pressure, supportive care may be the only other form of care you need. This may include:
IV fluids
management of other medical problems
speech, physical, or occupational therapy

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