A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted or cut-off. When this happens, the affected area of the brain does not receive the oxygen and nutrients that it needs. This can cause cells in the brain to die. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, and hemorrhagic. Hemorrhagic strokes are less common than ischemic strokes, and account for only 15% of all strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the head ruptures or breaks. This causes bleeding in or near the brain. Bleeding in the brain is harmful because the extra blood presses against the brain cells and can cause them to die.
There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes: intra-cerebral hemorrhagic strokes and subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke. An intra-cerebral stroke occurs when the ruptured blood vessel is located within the brain. This is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke. A subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke occurs when the ruptured blood vessel is located in between the brain and the skull.
A hemorrhagic stroke will often cause a very severe headache, usually described as “the worst headache I have ever had”. A hemorrhagic stroke may have additional symptoms that are similar to the symptoms seen in an ischemic stroke: blurred vision, loss of vision, loss of coordination, drooping eyelids, and nausea or vomiting. Risk factors include older age, smoking, high blood pressure, illicit drug usage, head injury, heavy drinking, and a family history of a stroke. If you believe that you or a family member may be experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke, seek medical attention immediately. It is very important that the bleed is stopped. Support groups are available for more information and resources.