Updated: February 2020
What is a haemorrhagic stroke?
A haemorrhagic stroke is caused by the rupturing of a weakened blood vessel, as opposed to an ischaemic stroke, which happens when a blood clot blocks the blood flow to the brain. It’s also referred to as an intracerebral haemorrhage.
Around 80 percent of haemorrhagic strokes are caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure, and this type of stroke is far more likely to be fatal.
There are two types of haemorrhagic stroke:
Intracerebral haemorrhage, the more common, in which the bleeding occurs inside the brain.
Subarachnoid haemorrhage, where the bleeding occurs between the brain and the meninges, the membranes covering it.
Most haemorrhagic strokes are the result of an aneurysm, where part of a blood vessel expands like a bubble. This in turn is usually caused by chronic high blood pressure, though in some cases the wall of the blood vessel may be congenitally weak.
It’s possible to go through your whole life with an undiagnosed aneurysm and not experience any symptoms, but the problems occur when an aneurysm ruptures and blood seeps out into the surrounding brain tissue.
The most obvious symptom of a ruptured aneurysm is a sudden and extremely painful headache, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and vision problems.
How is haemorrhagic stroke treated?
The immediate priority is to control the bleeding and lower the pressure within your brain. This is done using drugs, following which surgery may be carried out to seal the aneurysm with a clip and reduce the risk of another stroke.
What’s the prognosis?
Haemorrhagic stroke is a life-threatening condition. It’s fatal in up to half of cases, and in others the recovery process is slow. Only 12 percent of people are nearly or fully better within thirty days.