What is a Cerebral Hemorrhage?

Susan Grindstaff

A cerebral hemorrhage is a type of stroke that causes bleeding in the brain and the death of some brain cells. These hemorrhages can occur in different parts of the brain, though some areas of the brain are more susceptible than others. In many cases, brain hemorrhages are treatable, but sometimes they are so sudden and severe that near instantaneous death can occur. Treatment depends on the location of the cerebral hemorrhage and its severity, but may include surgery and radiation therapy. Though cerebral hemorrhages are not believed to be age specific, they rarely occur in children.

Cocaine use can cause a cerebral hemorrhage.
Cocaine use can cause a cerebral hemorrhage.

Four types of cerebral hemorrhages account for the majority of all cases. Intracerebral hemorrhages are considered the most common, and they are hemorrhages that occur inside the brain itself. An epidural hemorrhage describes bleeding that occurs between the exterior of the brain and the skull. The coating of the brain consists of many layers of tissue called meninges, and when the hemorrhages occur within those layers, it is referred to as a subdural hemorrhage. Subarachnoid hemorrhages are cerebral hemorrhages that take place between the brain and the meninges that surround it.

Oral contraceptives may increase the risk for aneurysms and cerebral hemorrhages.
Oral contraceptives may increase the risk for aneurysms and cerebral hemorrhages.

Sometimes a cerebral hemorrhage can be best treated with immediate surgery. This is usually dependent on the location and severity of the bleeding, and is often considered a life-saving measure. Many times, however, doctors can take a more measured approach using less invasive treatments such as radiological therapy. Radiological therapy usually involves inserting a catheter to close the bleeding arteries or vessels. When possible, doctors may opt for radiation therapy, which uses beams of radiation to stop the bleeding.

Anyone can have a cerebral hemorrhage, but there are certain groups of people at higher risk. These groups include people who suffer from high blood pressure and people who smoke. Additionally, cocaine and other types of stimulative drugs can also cause cerebral hemorrhage. Sometimes brain hemorrhage can be the result of some genetic disorders associated with the circulatory system.

Research seems to indicate that bleeding in the brain occurs more often in women than in men, and a possible link between cerebral hemorrhages and oral contraceptives may be a factor. Some studies show that oral contraceptives may put women at high risk for aneurysms. Aneurysms are weakened portions within a blood vessel or artery that sometimes cause them to rupture. When the ruptured vessels are in the brain or surrounding tissue, it can cause cerebral hemorrhaging.

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