A hemorrhagic stroke is a serious medical event where an artery in an individual's brain begins to bleed. The surrounding brain tissues are inundated with blood when a weak blood vessel in the brain bursts open, causing damage to the brain cells, rendering some tissues in the brain unable to function. An intracerebral hemorrhage causes this stroke when the bleed is in the actual brain tissue. A subarachnoid hemorrhage causes one of these strokes when the bleed is in the space between the brain and the protective membranes that surround it. This type of stroke is most common in individuals who have bleeding disorders, hypertension, cerebral aneurysm, cavernous cerebral malfunctions, and arteriovenous malfunctions.
Hemorrhagic stroke treatment requires emergency care to stop the bleeding in the patient's brain. Some patients take blood pressure medication for a hemorrhagic stroke. Many patients will need medication to counteract blood thinners as well. Other treatments for hemorrhagic strokes include rest, intravenous fluids, and supportive care, including speech therapy. Surgery for hemorrhagic stroke can be required. However, the best treatment starts with understanding the symptoms and catching the condition.
Loss Of Consciousness
An individual having a hemorrhagic stroke may experience loss of consciousness. Loss of consciousness refers to a medical event where an individual suddenly loses the ability to respond to stimuli and looks to be asleep. Most often, loss of consciousness is caused by acute changes in the affected individual's body. Loss of consciousness occurs in patients whose hemorrhagic stroke is due to increased intracranial pressure resulting from an intracerebral hemorrhage. When an individual has a hemorrhage that displaces blood in the brain, the accommodation limitations of the skull can cause the brain tissues to become compressed.
The tissues that make up an individual's brain stem are often affected by increased intracranial pressure. The brain stem contains an individual's reticular activating system, which controls the arousal and sleep states of consciousness. This system malfunctions when its tissues become pressurized and may result in the affected individual losing consciousness. Loss of consciousness is one of the most severe symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Sudden And Severe Headache
An individual who is having a hemorrhagic stroke may present with a sudden and severe headache. A headache caused by a hemorrhagic stroke often has a focal point that can help distinguish what part of the brain is experiencing the stroke. When an individual has a hemorrhagic stroke in their carotid artery, they may get a sudden and severe headache in their forehead. The patient may have a sudden and severe headache in the back of their head when a hemorrhagic stroke occurs in the vertebrobasilar system that provides blood to the backside of the brain.
There are no pain reporting nerves contained within the tissues of the brain itself, though the protective membranes around the brain, also known as the meninges, do have a high concentration of sensory nerves. When blood escapes from the vessels during a hemorrhagic stroke, it can be highly irritating to the tissues of the meninges. This irritation causes the affected individual to experience the rapid onset of an extremely painful headache.
Nausea And Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting may occur in some patients who have a hemorrhagic stroke. The presence of nausea and vomiting depends on the region of the brain in which the individual experiences their stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke that occurs in the cerebellum can cause abnormal reflexes. When this stroke occurs in other brain tissues that cause the cerebellum to become compressed, abnormal reflexes can also appear. When a patient experiences abnormal reflexes in their esophagus, chest, torso, head, and stomach, it can cause them to vomit unintentionally.
Vomiting during a hemorrhagic stroke can be a mechanical malfunction due to reflexes and abnormal muscle activity. Another explanation is that it may be related to the stroke's effects on the balance and perception centers of the brain. A stroke that compresses or damages the tissues in the cerebellum or brain stem can cause a patient to lose sync with their visual perception, balance, and body position. This malfunction results in nausea and vomiting induced by vertigo and dizziness.
Facial Weakness Or Numbness
Facial weakness or numbness can indicate a hemorrhagic stroke occurred. Facial weakness or numbness refers to when an individual cannot use the muscles that move their face and cannot feel normal sensations in the facial tissues. The face may appear to droop or become flaccid when an individual experiences facial weakness and or paralysis. When an individual has a hemorrhagic stroke, the displaced excess blood that enters the brain tissues can cause the nerves that control the facial muscles to become compressed. This can result in the death of the cells making up these nerves.
When the nerves that trigger the movement of the muscles of the face become unable to function, the facial muscles themselves are also unable to function. The patient's mouth may appear to droop on the affected side of their face, and they may drool due to the inability to close their mouth properly. They may also have slurred speech and be unable to eat or drink properly. However, most individuals who experience facial weakness or numbness due to a hemorrhagic stroke retain their ability to blink and move their forehead.
Seizures are more prevalent among patients who have a hemorrhagic stroke than those who have other types of strokes. If an individual has a stroke is not diagnosed promptly, the occurrence of a post-stroke seizure can help with a stroke diagnosis. A seizure occurs when there is a surge of disorganized abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes certain symptoms and behaviors in an affected individual. The swelling and inflammation that occurs in the brain tissues when an individual has a hemorrhagic stroke can disrupt the normal conduction of electrical signals in the brain.
The presence of blood throughout the brain tissues can also hinder the normal movement of electrical signals in the brain. This type of disruption can trigger the disorganized, irregular activity that characterizes a seizure. Any stroke will cause inflammation, cellular damage, and dead tissues in the brain. All three of these factors can cause the development of scar tissue, which may also disrupt regular electrical activity in the brain.
Disorientation Or Confusion
Many patients dealing with a hemorrhagic stroke will have some disorientation or confusion as a symptom. Patients may find that they do not know the time, date, or even where they are. The confusion can also present itself as the patient having difficulty understanding what other people are saying to them. Affected individuals may also find that they experience some difficulty thinking clearly as well. Ultimately, most patients will deal with sudden disorientation or confusion as part of their hemorrhagic stroke symptoms. For instance, individuals may find it hard to understand someone in the middle of a conversation immediately when the stroke sets in.
A hemorrhagic stroke will often trigger speech problems. In most instances, patients will experience speech problems as a symptom alongside confusion. It can start as patients having difficulty understanding speech and dealing with confusion about what someone is saying to them. In addition to this, hemorrhagic stroke patients are also likely to deal with slurred speech. Most stroke patients will find it hard to repeat simple sentences when they are asked to do so. Of course, the speech problems that occur due to a hemorrhagic stroke will appear suddenly.
Information indicates that up to one-third of patients who experience a hemorrhagic stroke will deal with light sensitivity as a symptom. Light sensitivity is often referred to as photophobia. It means that the affected individual finds light in their environment more powerful than others do. In other words, they feel that the light is too bright, and the result is discomfort or pain. Some patients may squint their eyes or suddenly scrunch them closed to avoid the light. In certain cases, hemorrhagic stroke patients will experience severe light sensitivity and discomfort that can dramatically reduce their vision quality. Hemorrhagic stroke treatment can help relieve this symptom, though dark sunglasses may be necessary as well.
Many individuals who are experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke will have trouble walking. Patients may find that they are dizzy and deal with a loss of coordination, which can mean that they will stumble when they walk. Ultimately, they are more likely to not walk straight or fall down. Balance problems, the mentioned stumbling, and loss of coordination, are the major ways that individuals dealing with this type of stroke will have trouble walking. It is also important to understand that a hemorrhagic stroke may result in paralysis on one side of the body, which can also trigger walking problems.
Vision changes are also common as symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke. As mentioned, patients may deal with some light sensitivity due to this type of stroke. This can make it harder for individuals to see well. In addition, a hemorrhagic stroke can trigger double vision or lessen an individual's sight in one or both of their eyes. Some patients may not be able to tell the difference between an object being reflected and a mirror image. It may also be hard for them to make sense of simple visual cues when they are having a hemorrhagic stroke. Examples include recognizing familiar objects and even familiar faces.