Cerebral Hemorrhage – A True Emergency

Cerebral Hemorrhage

A cerebral hemorrhage is bleeding that occurs inside the head. The bleeding can be inside the brain or outside the brain, and in many cases, this type of hemorrhage can be life-threatening.

In this article, we will break down all the places brain bleeds can happen. But first, why is cerebral hemorrhage so dangerous?

Cerebral hemorrhage can cause the brain to be deprived of enough oxygen. Brain cells will die when they have a prolonged period of decreased oxygenation. The brain has specific control of certain functions in the body, and loss of brain cells leads to loss of function.

The pooling blood also puts pressure on the brain, which is another thing that prevents oxygen from getting to the brain cells. So, not only are the leaky or burst vessels interrupting the brain’s oxygen supply, but the pressure is also. It quickly becomes clear why a cerebral hemorrhage is a medical emergency.

Cerebral Hemorrhage: Locations Of Brain Bleeds

It’s important to understand that there are two main areas where the hemorrhage can happen: inside the head but outside the brain, or inside the brain.

Bleeding Outside the Brain

There are three membranes between the skull and the brain tissue. These membranes are there to protect the brain. When the bleed is categorized as being outside the brain, it can occur anywhere between these membranes.

  • Epidural bleeds happen between the skull and the outermost membrane (dura mater).
  • Subdural bleeds happen between the outermost membrane and the middle membrane (arachnoid).
  • Subarachnoid bleeds happen between the middle membrane and the membrane closest to the brain tissue (pia mater).

Bleeding Inside the Brain

Two types of brain bleeds can occur inside the brain tissue: intracerebral hemorrhage and intraventricular hemorrhage.

Intracerebral hemorrhage is also known as hemorrhagic stroke and takes place in the lobes, pons, and cerebellum of the brain.

Intraventricular hemorrhage occurs in the ventricles, which are cavities in the middle of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid is made.

What Causes Cerebral Hemorrhage?

There are quite a few things that can cause brain bleeds, including:

  • Head trauma
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots
  • Ruptured blood vessel
  • Build-up of protein in walls of arteries
  • Bleeding disorders due to blood thinners
  • Brain tumor
  • Smoking and other unhealthy lifestyle choices

How Do You Know You Have a Brain Bleed?

The symptoms related to cerebral hemorrhage depend on the area where the bleed is happening. There are, however, some general signs you can expect to see, including:

  • Loss of sensation or tingling or inability to move the limbs on one side of the body.
  • Intense headache, which is also described as a thunderclap headache.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.
  • Seizures.
  • Trouble with vision.
  • Losing balance.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Trouble understanding what others say.
  • Sudden sleepiness, loss of consciousness, or coma.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Abnormal heart rate.

If a brain hemorrhage is suspected, treatment at an emergency center is imperative. The emergency physicians will immediately evaluate and treat this condition. They will order a CT scan, MRI, or MRA of the brain to determine the location and extent of the brain bleed.

Other tests include:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Urinalysis
  • Complete blood count
  • Spinal tap
  • Conventional angiography

Cerebral Hemorrhage Treatment

Once the doctor has established that a brain bleed is present, they will start treatment immediately to prevent further bleeding and brain damage.

In many cases, surgery is the definitive treatment. The doctor may need to do surgery to:

  • Release the blood and relieve the pressure.
  • Seal off an aneurysm that hasn’t ruptured yet.
  • Remove an arteriovenous malformation that is at high risk of rupture.

Less invasive treatments include treatment with medication to control intracranial pressure. Medication to keep blood pressure at a reasonable level to help prevent further bleeding. It may be necessary to treat with antiseizure medication, as well. Pain control with medication is also necessary.

Final Thoughts

Although there are various types of cerebral hemorrhages, they’re all considered medical emergencies. The faster the treatment is administered, the better the chance of avoiding brain damage and death.

If you have hurt your head or suspect you may have had a stroke, get to an emergency center right away to rule out any bleeding of the brain.

Also, remember that a sudden and severe headache can often be associated with cerebral hemorrhage. Getting emergency treatment fast will lead to the best results.


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About the Author: Julie Souza