Illustration of the brain and the impact of a hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when blood from damaged or ruptured blood vessels seeps into or around the brain. Intracranial bleeding disrupts the brain’s oxygen supply and upsets the chemical balance that brain cells need to function. The resulting blood clot (hematoma) can cause the brain to swell (edema) and increase intracranial pressure, which can cause further oxygen deprivation.

More About This Condition

A hemorrhagic stroke is one of two major stroke types. The other — called an ischemic stroke — is typically caused by an arterial blockage and is responsible for the majority of strokes. Both stroke types can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, and even death. However, early treatment can have a significant effect on outcomes. Therefore, it is critical to contact emergency services at the first sign of stroke.

Types of Hemorrhagic Stroke

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures (tears), allowing blood to seep into surrounding tissue. ICH has many causes, but it is most often the result of chronic high blood pressure.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) occurs when an artery located on the outer surface of the brain ruptures, allowing blood to leak into the fluid-filled space between the brain and the skull. The cause is often a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, a weakened area on an artery that bulges, fills with blood, and bursts open. The first sign of SAH is typically a severe headache that comes on suddenly with no known cause.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This overview is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Be sure to talk with your doctor for a complete discussion of this condition as well as the benefits and risks of any treatment options.


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