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Hemorrhagic Stroke


What is a hemorrhagic stroke?

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in your brain tears or bursts. Blood then leaks out of the vessel and causes pressure to build up in your brain. The increased pressure damages brain tissue. Blood may collect within your brain or between layers of tissue that protect the brain.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

The word F.A.S.T. can help you remember and recognize warning signs of a stroke.

  • F = Face: One side of the face droops.
  • A = Arms: One arm starts to drop when both arms are raised.
  • S = Speech: Speech is slurred or sounds different than usual.
  • T = Time: A person who is having a stroke needs to be seen immediately. A stroke is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. Some medicines and treatments work best if given within a few hours of a stroke.
  • FAST Sings of a Stroke

What are the signs and symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke?

Signs and symptoms depend on which part of your brain is injured. One or more of the following may appear minutes or hours after a stroke, and worsen quickly:

  • Severe headache, neck pain, or a stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred or double vision, or vision loss
  • Trouble waking up or being less awake than usual
  • Numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Trouble walking or speaking
  • Seizures

What increases my risk for a hemorrhagic stroke?

  • An arteriovenous malformation or an aneurysm
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes
  • Blood thinning medicine or a blood clotting disorder
  • Smoking cigarettes, drinking large amounts of alcohol, or using illegal drugs such as cocaine
  • A family history of stroke

How is a hemorrhagic stroke diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you. You will need a CT or MRI to find the bleeding and check for damage to your brain. You may be given contrast liquid to help your skull and brain show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

How is a hemorrhagic stroke treated?

Treatment depends on how severe your bleeding is and how much damage has been done to your brain. The bleeding will be controlled and stopped to prevent more damage to your brain. You may need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to help stop the bleeding and lower your blood pressure. You may also need medicine to decrease pain, reduce brain pressure, or prevent seizures.
  • Surgery may be needed to stop the bleeding or remove blood that has leaked out of the blood vessels. A tube may be placed in your skull to drain fluid. This will help decrease pressure in your brain and prevent more damage. The tube may also monitor pressure in your brain.

What can I do to lower my risk for a hemorrhagic stroke?

  • Manage health conditions. Take your medicine as directed. Check your blood pressure and blood sugar levels as directed. Keep a record and bring it to your follow-up visits. Control your blood sugar level if you have hyperglycemia or diabetes.
    How to take a Blood Pressure
  • Do not smoke cigarettes or use illegal drugs. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage. Nicotine and illegal drugs both increase your risk for a stroke. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Heavy alcohol use increases your risk for any type of stroke.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Choose foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Eat foods that are high in potassium, such as potatoes and bananas.
  • Exercise as directed. Activity is important for preventing another stroke. You may need to work with an exercise therapist to learn how to exercise safely. Exercise may help you be able to do your normal activities more easily. Exercise also helps control your blood pressure and weight.
  • Manage stress. Stress can increase your blood pressure. Find new ways to relax, such as deep breathing or listening to music.

What is rehabilitation (rehab)?

Rehab is an important part of treatment. Physical therapists can help you gain strength and build endurance. Occupational therapists teach you new ways to do daily activities, such as getting dressed. Therapy can help you improve your ability to walk or keep your balance. You may start slowly and start doing more difficult tasks over time. Your therapy may include tasks or movements you will need to do for everyday activities. An example is being able to raise or lower yourself from a chair. A speech therapist helps you relearn or improve your ability to talk and swallow.

What do I need to know about depression?

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have depression that continues or is getting worse. Your provider may be able to help treat your depression. Your provider can also recommend support groups for you to join. A support group is a place to talk with others who have had a stroke. It may also help to talk to friends and family members about how you are feeling. Tell your family and friends to let your healthcare provider know if they see signs of depression:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Avoiding social interaction with family or friends
  • A lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Low energy levels
  • A change in eating habits or sudden weight gain or loss

Where can I find support and more information?

  • National Stroke Association
    9707 E. Easter Lane
    Centennial , CO 80112
    Phone: 1- 800 - 787-6537
    Web Address:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone else call if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • FAST Sings of a Stroke
  • You have a seizure.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • Your blood pressure or blood sugar level is higher or lower than you were told it should be.
  • You fall and have unusual and heavy bleeding.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.