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Subarachnoid Hemorrhage


Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is bleeding inside your brain from a ruptured (burst) blood vessel. Blood collects in the area underneath the membrane that surrounds your brain, called the subarachnoid space. SAH can occur when an abnormal blood vessel or an aneurysm bursts. An aneurysm is a bulging area of a blood vessel. A head injury can also cause a burst blood vessel. SAH is a type of stroke that is life-threatening with or without treatment.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage



  • Antihypertensives: These help reduce high blood pressure. This may help prevent the return of SAH. It is also used to prevent stroke, bleeding inside your brain, or heart or kidney damage caused by SAH.
  • Anticonvulsants: These help prevent seizures.
  • Anticoagulants: These help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider, neurosurgeon, or endovascular specialist as directed:

You may need more tests to show if you need further treatment or surgery. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

What to expect after SAH:

You may not fully recover after SAH. You may not sleep well, think clearly, or be able to work as you did before. You may also be anxious, tired, or depressed. Your physical condition may be worse than before. You may be worried about having another SAH. This may affect your relationships. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your recovery process. Ask when it is safe to drive a vehicle again. You may need someone to drive you until your brain has healed.


A physical therapist and an occupational therapist may exercise your arms, legs, and hands. They may also teach you new ways to do things around the house. A speech therapist may work with you to help you talk or swallow.


  • Control your blood pressure: Ask your healthcare provider about how to control your blood pressure.
  • Do not smoke tobacco or drink excess alcohol: This will help reduce the risk of return SAH.
  • Do not use illegal drugs: Illegal drugs may increase your risk of SAH because they make your blood vessels contract and your blood pressure go up.
  • Eat more vegetables: Vegetables may help prevent strokes.

Know the signs of a stroke:

Know the F.A.S.T. test to recognize the signs of a stroke:

  • F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Drooping on one side of the mouth or face is a sign of a stroke.
  • A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. One arm that slowly comes back down or cannot be raised is a sign of a stroke.
  • S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence that you say first. Speech that is slurred or sounds strange is a sign of a stroke.
  • T = Time: Call 911 if you see any of these signs. This is an emergency.

For support and more information:

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

Contact your healthcare provider or neurologist if:

  • You have neck stiffness that does not go away or a mild or moderate headache that lasts a few days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 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
  • You have eye pain when you are in bright light, or you see double.
  • You have a seizure, or someone sees you lose consciousness.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

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

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