• Subarachnoid Hemorrhage


    Subarachnoid hemorrhage is a type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel ruptures. Blood quickly fills the area immediately surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This space contains the cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid cushions and bathes the brain and spinal cord.
    This life-threatening condition requires emergency medical care. The hemorrhage may increase the pressure around the brain. It can interfere with the brain's ability to function.
    Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
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    This type of hemorrhage is usually caused by:
    • Head trauma
    • Rupture of cerebral aneurysms and other blood vessel deformities—spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage
    • Bleeding disorders
    • Drug use—especially cocaine and amphetamines
    • Brain tumors—Tumors can contain abnormal blood vessels. Tumors may not be detected until after they bleed.

    Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of developing subarachnoid hemorrhage include:


    If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to subarachnoid hemorrhage. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions:
    • A very sudden, severe headache
    • Brief loss of consciousness
    • Seizures
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Weakness on one side of your body
    • Unexplained numbness or tingling
    • Slurred speech or other speech disturbance
    • Visions problems, such as double vision, blind spots, or temporary vision loss on one side
    • Stiff neck or shoulder pain
    • Confusion
    If you these symptoms, get emergency medical care right away.


    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Tests may include the following:


    Subarachnoid hemorrhage is a serious condition. It requires initial treatment in the intensive care unit. Despite treatment, many patients with this condition die.
    The aim of treatment is to stop the bleeding, limit damage to the brain, and reduce the risk of it occurring again. If bleeding results from a cerebral aneurysm, a doctor will usually attempt to stop it using various techniques. Patients receive medicines to ensure proper blood flow to the rest of the brain. Absolute bed rest is needed to prevent additional bleeding. After the situation is stabilized, patients undertake a vigorous rehabilitation program.
    If you are diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, follow your doctor's instructions.


    Aneurysms present since birth cannot be prevented. Because they are so rare, doctors do not advise screening for them. If an unruptured aneurysm is discovered by chance in a young person, the doctor may do surgery.
    Avoiding smoking and controlling blood pressure can reduce the risk of a rupture if an aneurysm exists. Wearing a seatbelt and using a helmet can also reduce the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage from head trauma.


    The Brain Aneurysm Foundation http://www.bafound.org

    National Stroke Association http://www.stroke.org


    Brain Injury Association of Alberta http://www.biaa.ca

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com


    Awad I. The riddle of association, causation, and prevention of subarachnoid hemorrhage. J Neurol, Neurosurg, Psych. 2012;83(11):1035.

    Broderick J, Connolly S, Feldmann E, et al. Guidelines for the management of spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage in adults: 2007 update: a guideline from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Stroke Council, High Blood Pressure Research Council, and the Quality of Care and Outcomes in Research Interdisciplinary Working Group. Stroke . 2007b;38(6):2001-23.

    Feigin V, Parag V, Lawes CM, et al. Smoking and elevated blood pressure are the most important risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage in the Asia-pacific region: an overview of 26 cohorts involving 306,620 participants. Stroke . 2005;36:1360.

    Feigin VL, Rinkel GJ, Lawes CM, et al. Risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage: an updated systematic review of epidemiological studies. Stroke . 2005 Dec;36(12):2773-80.

    Ingall T, Asplund K, Mahonen M, Bonita R. A multinational comparison of subarachnoid hemorrhage epidemiology in the WHO MONICA stroke study. Stroke . 2000; 31:1054.

    Jabbour PM, Tjoumakaris SI, Rosenwasser RH. Endovascular management of intracranial aneurysms. Neurosurg Clin N Amer . 2009;20:383-398.

    Mayberg MR, Batjer HH, Dacey R, et al. Guidelines for the management of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. A statement for healthcare professionals from a special writing group of the Stroke Council, American Heart Association. Stroke . 2009;40:994.

    Subarachnoid hemorrhage. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated January 22, 2013. Accessed February 25, 2013.

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