What is a hemorrhagic stroke?

Not all strokes are caused by blood clots that block an artery. Nearly 10 percent of strokes happen when a blood vessel ruptures in or near the brain. This is called a hemorrhagic (hem-o-RAYG-ik) stroke.

Types of hemorrhagic strokes

There are two kinds of hemorrhagic stroke. In both, a blood vessel ruptures, disrupting blood flow to part of the brain.

  • Subarachnoid (sub-ah-RAK-noid) hemorrhage

    • Occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of the brain ruptures and bleeds into the space between the brain and the skull.

    • A ruptured aneurysm, often caused by high blood pressure, is the most common cause. An aneurysm is a blood-filled pouch that balloons out from an artery wall.

  • Intracerebral hemorrhage

    • Occurs when a blood vessel bleeds into the tissue deep within the brain.

    • Chronically high blood pressure or aging blood vessels are the main causes of this type of stroke.

How are hemorrhagic strokes treated?

Hemorrhages may be life-threatening, hospital care may need to be in an intensive care unit. Surgery may be needed, depending on the cause of the hemorrhage. For example, a procedure or surgery could be performed to repair an aneurysm or remove a blood clot.

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