Hemorrhagic Stroke: What It Is, Symptoms & Treatment

Nov 10, 2022 | Types of Stroke

What is a stroke?

Stroke happens when there the vessels that are carrying blood to the brain is erupted
or there is a blockage of the blood flow to the brain. It is a serious medical condition that can cause life and death conditions. There are two main types of stroke: hemorrhagic stroke, and ischemic strokes.

What is a hemorrhagic stroke?

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery ruptures and bleeds within the brain. It can be further divided into two types, an intracerebral hemorrhage, which occurs when the bleeding occurs within the cerebrum and the subarachnoid stroke, which is bleeding occurs between the pia mater and arachnoid mater of the meninges, the inner and the middle layers that wrap around the brain.


Normally, the brain collects blood through arteries within the brain tissue and provides oxygen and glucose to the brain cells for functioning. If a blood vessel has deliberated, then it bursts which causes a hemorrhagic stroke, which is the type of stroke 13% of the time. There becomes an excess amount of blood in the brain and this blood causes nerve cells to die. The blood tissue is not able to get the nourishment that it needs so, the blood then collects and presses against the brain tissue. 

What is the difference between ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke?

80% of the strokes are ischemic strokes. Ischemic stroke happens when there is blockage in the blood vessel. The lack of blood entering the brain can cause damage to the tissue. The main difference between hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke is the condition is called an hemorrhagic stroke when there is a rupture of the blood vessel which leads to blood entering the brain. On the other hand, ischemic stroke occurs when blood is not able to enter the brain and this situation is temporary.

What causes a hemorrhagic stroke ?

Hemorrhagic stroke can be caused by many factors, such as brain tumors, tumors that spread to the bread from another place in the body and or an illness in the brain. The blood cells in the brain can be weakened because of high blood-pressure. If an individual is over the age of 65 they are at an increased risk of having a hemorrhagic stroke especially if they are not in good health. 

Health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and lack of exercise puts the individual at a greater risk. The most widely known risk of hemorrhagic stroke is high blood pressure; this is the biggest risk factor.

Other risk factors for a hemorrhagic stroke are: bleeding disorder, drug use, excessive alcohol use, abnormalities in blood vessels, kidney diseases, liver diseases

and smoking. 

What are the symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke?

A hemorrhagic stroke is severe and can be life threatening. It is important to identify hemorrhagic stroke and distinguish it from regular strokes.
Symptoms can be listed as: 

  • Sudden headache in the back of the head
  • Pupils become bigger
  • Unable to stay conscious
  • Inability to see clearly
  • Ache in the muscles 
  • Seizure attacks
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting    
  • Stiff Neck

If someone is able to live from a hemorrhagic stroke, symptoms can continue for the rest of their life. A hemorrhagic stroke can also lead to different illnesses such as dementia. Early symptom recognition is important when trying to get medical help. There are four ways to do this, which is better known as FAST. 

F = Face. Checking the face to see if one side is drooping compared to the other when the person is trying to smile.

A = Arms. Is the person able to lift both of their arms or does one seem to make it to the ground. 

S = Speech. Is the person able to speak clearly or are they slurring their words. 

T = Time. Time is the key. Calling for help as soon as possible if any of them are correct is important. 

Symptoms can continue to develop over time and can be permanent. Some symptoms that can be permanent are headaches, inability to look at bright lights, difficulty speaking or understanding speech etc.

What is the diagnosis of a hemorrhagic stroke?

Determining the location and the size of the hemorrhagic stroke is important when finding the damage that was done on the brain from the stroke. A CT Scan, MRI or Angiography is used when diagnosing the hemorrhagic stroke. If the patient is having the hemorrhagic stroke at that specific time the doctor will get a baseline non-contrast CT to see the bleed in the brain. The MRI is used if the CT is not when diagnosing. Primary hemorrhages are caused by hypertension and lobar hemorrhages. Secondary hemorrhages usually have an underlying condition such as tumors or vascular malformation.

Can a person survive a hemorrhagic stroke?

The survival rate from hemorrhagic stroke is about 26% and is one of the leading causes of death. The chances of survival are slim which make this type of stroke fatal. The first five years after the hemorrhagic stroke is crucial. The first five years map out the life expectancy of the person because most people are not able to recover from such an event. Most of the patients who did survive from hemorrhagic stroke do not make it past the first couple of weeks after the stroke. 

If the treatment is acquired when the stroke is happening, luckily the survival rate does increase. Life expectancy is not always easy to determine because of the many factors that need to be considered. Healthiness of the patient is the key when determining survival rate. If there is a pre-existing condition such as obesity, high blood pressure or cholesterol this could also lower the survival rate. The faster treatment is obtained the life expectancy will be increased. Assistance in the living environment is also usually attained after a hemorrhagic stroke. Reason being is the person who is assisting you is able to grasp if there are any displays of another hemorrhagic stroke so that they are able to provide or retrieve emergency treatment. Those who do have an hemorrhagic stroke tend to have another within the next couple of years which could be fatal because more damage is then inflicted onto the brain.

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