A brain hemorrhage is a medical emergency involving bleeding in your brain. It can lead to serious complications or death. Prompt medical attention is vital.

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When bleeding happens in or around your brain, it’s called a brain hemorrhage. This condition is sometimes referred to more simply as a brain bleed.

A brain hemorrhage can lead to lasting brain damage and can be life threatening. As such, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of a brain hemorrhage and to get immediate care if you or someone else is experiencing them.

In this article, we take a closer look at brain hemorrhages, including what causes them, symptoms to be aware of, and how they’re treated.

Brain hemorrhage refers to bleeding in or around your brain. It happens due to a break in a blood vessel supplying your brain or surrounding tissues.

When a bleed occurs, the affected parts of your brain don’t receive as much oxygen-rich blood. Additionally, pooling of blood from the bleed can increase pressure in your skull. Both of these things can lead to brain damage.

There are several different types of brain hemorrhage, depending on where specifically the bleeding is happening.

Bleeding can happen in between any of the three tissues, collectively called the meninges, that cover and protect your brain. It can also happen within your brain tissue itself.

Epidural hematoma

A hematoma is an area of mostly clotted blood that collects outside of your blood vessels. An epidural hematoma forms between the bone of your skull and your dura mater. Your dura mater is the outermost tissue covering your brain.

Subdural hematoma

A subdural hematoma is when a hematoma forms between your dura mater and arachnoid. Your arachnoid is the second layer of tissue covering your brain.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage

A subarachnoid hemorrhage happens when there’s bleeding into the subarachnoid space. This is the area between your arachnoid layer and pia mater, which is the innermost layer of tissue covering your brain.

Intracerebral hemorrhage

An intracerebral hemorrhage is when bleeding happens inside of your brain.

Intraventricular hemorrhage

An intraventricular hemorrhage is due to bleeding in your brain’s ventricles, a group of cavities in your brain that produce cerebrospinal fluid.

What’s the difference between a brain hemorrhage and a stroke?

A brain hemorrhage generally refers to bleeding in and around your brain. A hemorrhagic stroke is a type of stroke that causes intracerebral hemorrhage.

Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into your brain. According to the American Stroke Association, they cause about 13% of all strokes.

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Some brain hemorrhages can happen as a result of a head injury. This can occur due to things like:

  • car accidents
  • falls
  • sports-related injuries
  • violence or assault

Other brain hemorrhages happen when a blood vessel bursts in the absence of a head injury. There are several things that can put you at risk of this, such as having:

Other factors that can increase your risk of brain hemorrhage include:

The potential symptoms of a brain hemorrhage can include:

What to do if you suspect a brain hemorrhage

If you or someone around you is showing symptoms of a brain hemorrhage, call 911 or local emergency services. A brain hemorrhage is a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment to prevent complications or death.

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Treatment of a brain hemorrhage begins with providing support to your body’s functions. This focuses on things like:

  • ensuring that your breathing airway is open and that enough oxygen is being received
  • supporting blood circulation and blood pressure
  • monitoring the pressure inside your skull, which can increase dangerously due to bleeding

Surgery may be needed for some brain hemorrhages. The aims of surgery for a brain hemorrhage include one or a combination of the following:

  • stop the bleeding
  • reduce pressure in your skull
  • repair the affected area

Depending on the location and severity of your hemorrhage, surgery may be done using minimally invasive techniques or a type of open surgery called craniotomy.

Medications are also used to treat a brain hemorrhage and may include:

After treatment, rehabilitation is also an important part of recovery from a brain hemorrhage. Depending on your individual needs, this can include things like:

Can a person survive a brain hemorrhage?

It’s possible to survive a brain hemorrhage with timely treatment. But mortality can still be high. This underlines the importance of getting prompt care.

For example, the mortality rate for epidural hematomas can be in excess of 15%, while mortality rates ranging from 30–80% have been reported for subdural hematomas.

Meanwhile, the 30-day mortality of subarachnoid hemorrhage and intracerebral hemorrhage has been reported to be 18–40% and 40–50%, respectively.

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The outlook for someone who’s had a brain hemorrhage can vary based on several factors:

  • the type and extent of your brain hemorrhage
  • the severity of neurological difficulties associated with your hemorrhage
  • the extent of consciousness impairment, as measured by the Glasgow Coma Scale
  • the time that elapses between your hemorrhage and treatment
  • your age and overall health

While some do survive a brain hemorrhage, it can be common for survivors to have lasting health difficulties. This is because a brain hemorrhage can lead to brain damage that can cause issues with your:

  • cognition, which includes things like thinking, memory, and attention
  • speech
  • movement

A brain hemorrhage is a medical emergency where bleeding happens in or around your brain. It can happen due to injury or other causes like high blood pressure or a burst aneurysm.

There are several different types of brain hemorrhage based on where the bleeding is happening. Each type can differ in its specific treatment and outlook.

Having a brain hemorrhage can result in serious complications or death. The key to improving your or someone else’s outlook is to call 911 or local emergency services and get immediate medical care if you or they are showing symptoms of a brain hemorrhage.