Cerebral hemorrhage is a bleeding in the brain, caused by a ruptured blood vessel. As a result, blood flows into or around the brain. Blood accumulates and pushes the brain tissue away, causing damage to brain tissue. Cerebral hemorrhage, as well as cerebral infarction and TIA, falls under the heading of ‘stroke’.
The cause is almost always a ruptured aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weak spot in a blood vessel that develops during life. With age, the aneurysm slowly grows into a little balloon. High blood pressure and atherosclerosis accelerate this process. If the aneurysm tears, bleeding occurs. A cerebral hemorrhage can occur in the brain tissue itself or between the meninges.
The symptoms of a cerebral hemorrhage can vary, depending on the portion in the brain where the bleeding takes place and the size of the affected area. The symptoms occur suddenly and may include:
- Severe headache.
- Severe dizziness.
- Double vision or blindness of one eye.
- Slurred speech or unable to speak properly.
- A lopsided mouth.
- Paralysis of one half of the body.
- Spasms of one half of the body.
- Unconsciousness (coma).
When symptoms like paralysis are located on the right side of the body, there is a bleeding in the left hemisphere. This applies vice versa.
The doctor makes the diagnosis of cerebral hemorrhage on the basis of failures found during physical examination. Because the symptoms of a cerebral hemorrhage and a cerebral infarction (blocked blood vessel) are very similar, a CT or MRI scan of the head will often be made. This way can be identified by which of the two conditions the patient is affected and the treatment can be determined. Treatment of cerebral infarction is actually very different from that of cerebral hemorrhage.
If the cause of cerebral hemorrhage has been an aneurysm, then an attempt is made to treat the cerebral hemorrhage with surgery. This operation should take place as quickly as possible. During the procedure, the doctor searches the place of the ruptured blood vessel and the vessel is closed. The objective of this operation is to reduce the risk of recurrence. Aneurysms may be treated in two ways:
- Coiling. In this treatment, a catheter is introduced into the groin. A catheter is a thin tube which is shifted into the bloodstream. Through this tube, the doctor brings up a coil to fill up the aneurysms in the brains. This filler should ensure that they cannot burst anymore.
- Clipping. A clip is placed onto the blood vessel by entering through the skull. This clip prevents blood entering the aneurysm.
If there is no obvious cause of the cerebral hemorrhage, no treatment is possible. However, advice can be given to eat healthier and to quit smoking and drinking, but these are indirect measures.
The nature and seriousness of the consequences of a cerebral hemorrhage depend on the location and size of the damage. The consequences are sometimes so severe that the patient dies.
Once a person has had a cerebral hemorrhage, there is increased risk of having it again. The patient can reduce the risk by taking the following measures:
- Quit smoking. Smoking is very bad for the blood vessels.
- Drink no more than one or two glasses of alcohol per day and preferably not every day.
- In case of overweight, try to lose weight or in any case try not to gain weight.
- Try to exercise at least half an hour per day. Every small exercise helps.
- In case of high blood pressure, ensure a healthy lifestyle and take the daily medications.
- In case of diabetes, ensure a proper control of the blood sugar.
- In case of high cholesterol, follow up dietary advices and faithfully take medicines to lower the cholesterol.
- Eat healthy with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Stress increases the risk of cardiovascular problems. If there’s a lot of stress, it is important to do something about it.