A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in part of the brain becomes weak and bursts open, causing blood to leak into the brain. Some people have defects in the blood vessels of the brain that make this more likely. These defects may include:
The symptoms of stroke depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not know that he or she has had a stroke.
Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning. Or, symptoms may occur on and off for the first day or two. Symptoms are usually most severe when the stroke first happens, but they may slowly get worse.
A headache may occur, especially if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain. The headache:
Starts suddenly and may be severe
Occurs when you are lying flat
Wakes you up from sleep
Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain, or cough
Other symptoms depend on how severe the stroke is and what part of the brain is affected. Symptoms may include:
A stroke is a medical emergency. Getting treated right away can save lives and reduce problems after a stroke. Call 911 or your local emergency number or seek urgent medical care at the first signs of a stroke.
It is very important for people who are having stroke symptoms to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.
If the stroke is caused by a blood clot, a clot-busting drug may be given to dissolve the clot.
For this drug to work, you must be seen and treatment must begin within 3 to 4 1/2 hours of when the symptoms first started.
Other treatments given in the hospital depend on the cause of the stroke:
Blood thinners such as heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix)
Medicine to control symptoms such as high blood pressure
Special procedures or surgery to relieve symptoms or prevent more strokes
Nutrients and fluids
A feeding tube in the stomach (gastrostomy tube)
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and swallowing therapy will all begin in the hospital.
The goal of treatment after a stroke is to help you recover as much function as possible and prevent future strokes.
Problems moving, thinking, and talking often improve in the weeks to months after a stroke.
Many people who have had a stroke will keep improving in the months or years after their stroke.
Over half of people who have a stroke are able to function and live at home. Other people are not able to care for themselves.
If treatment with clot-busting drugs is successful, the symptoms of a stroke may go away. However, patients often do not get to the hospital soon enough to receive these drugs, or they cannot take these drugs because of a health condition.
People who have a stroke due to a blood clot (ischemic stroke) have a better chance of surviving than those who have a stroke due to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
The risk for a second stroke is highest during the weeks or months after the first stroke. Then the risk begins to decrease.
Calling your health care provider
Stroke is a medical emergency that needs to be treated right away. Call your local emergency number (such as 911) if someone has symptoms of a stroke.
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Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.