Brain Bleed

A brain bleed can be a very dangerous life threatening condition.  About thirteen percent of all strokes are brain bleeds. Though brain bleeds can be misdiagnosed as a stroke, a brain bleed can lead to a stroke.  Or vice versa a stroke can end up leading to a brain bleed. It can also be caused by an artery bursting in the brain. About thirty to sixty percent of people with brain bleeds die.  The brain bleed can lead to brain swelling or can kill brain cells. In the worse cases there can be loss of brain function or even death. There are lots of ways to get a brain bleed, and the most important thing is to seek medical attention immediately if you believe you have a brain bleed.  There are ways to treating a brain bleed. And in some cases there are no side effects after a brain bleed is resolved. 


There are a number of different causes of brain bleeds.  The most common cause in people under the age of fifty is a head trauma.  A head trauma can lead to a brain bleed if there is severe damage done to the brain.  Another cause is high blood pressure. The high blood pressure if not treated can over time lead to the weakening of the arterial walls causing a rupture.  Another way a brain bleed can be caused is from amyloid angiopathy, which can be caused from high blood pressure. An aneurysm is when a blood vessel that swells and bursts.  An aneurysm can lead to a stroke if it bursts. Some people can have blood vessel abnormalities. These can include weakness of vessels. If someone shows signs of these abnormalities usually the person is born with them.  Having a blood or bleeding disorder can lead to a brain bleed as well; such as hemophilia or sickle cell anemia. Excess bleeding or the inability to clot happens with these diseases causing the chance of a brain bleed to be higher.  Brain tumors and liver disease can also lead to brain bleeds.

Even though there are many different ways to getting a brain bleed, diagnosing the brain bleed all starts the same.  Your doctor will start with a CT scan, or MRI. The CT or MRI will show pictures of your brain where if there is a brain bleed it will show up.  Your doctor may also use an eye exam or a neurological exam to test for a brain bleed. If these come back inconclusive or unsure, your doctor may order a spinal tap.  


There are a wide range of symptoms for a brain bleed.  The symptoms depend on a lot of variables. They depend on the severity of the brain bleed, location, and amount of tissue damaged.  The symptoms may develop overtime. Sometimes the symptoms can become worse overtime as well. They may not start right away. Symptoms can include: severe headache, seizures with no history of seizures before, weaknesses in an arm or leg, nausea, vomiting, decreased alertness, lethargy, changes in vision, tingling, numbness, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, difficulty writing, difficulty reading, loss of fine motor skills, loss of coordination, loss of balance, abnormal sense of taste, or loss of consciousness.  You can have one of these symptoms or a whole bunch of them. And again the symptoms can appear immediately or develop overtime. If you experience any of them you need to see your doctor immediately.  


Treatment of a brain bleed also has many different variables.  It is dependant on location, cause or extent of injury. There are medications your doctor may prescribe if your brain bleed is small and shows no sign of growing.  Medications such as painkillers, corticosteroids, diuretics which will reduce swelling, anticonvulsants which will prevent seizures. Your doctor will want to do regular CT scans or MRIs to make sure that your brain bleed isn’t getting worse through time.  Surgery may be an option if there is pressure building up in your brain that needs to be relieved as well. There are multiple different surgeries that can work for a brain bleed. One surgery is called a decompression surgery. This will relieve pressure on the brain, and fix damaged vessels.  In the decompression surgery your surgeon will evacuate a hematoma in the brain. Another surgery that can be done is a craniotomy. Which is when a surgeon removes a portion of the skull to drain the hematoma, then the surgeon will repair the damaged blood vessel. This is usually done if the brain bleed is severe, or it is causing major symptoms.  Simple aspiration is another surgeon to be done, a surgeon will drill a hole in the skull, using an aspiration needle the surgeon will drain the hematoma. Very similar to this is an endoscopic evacuation, which is the same as a simple aspiration, a hole is drilled but instead of using an aspiration needle an endoscope is used to drain the hematoma. A stereotactic aspiration is done during a CT scan, when a suction tool is used to suction out the hematoma.  A clipping procedure is done if the bleeding is caused by a ruptured aneurysm. If a brain bleed is not severe then sometimes your doctor will just keep an eye on it, with weekly CT scans and it can heal itself. There is sometimes no need for intervention. This is all dependent on the severity, or the location, or if the brain bleed is causing extreme symptoms. 

Along with treatment from your doctor there are other things that you can do to help prevent a brain bleed or decrease the possibilities.  Make sure if you suffer from high blood pressure to get it treated. Don’t smoke or don’t do illicit drugs. Try to avoid head trauma by wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, or motorcycle.  Make sure you buckle your seatbelt. If you have a history of aneurysms look into surgeries that can help prevent the recurrence of aneurysms. If you have a bleeding disorder make sure you are wary about taking Coumadin, this can mess up your blood levels making you more perceptible to brain bleeds.  

Brain bleeds can be very serious and can lead to death if not treated appropriately.  Make sure you see your doctor if you have any concerns or symptoms of a brain bleed. Treatment started right away can lead to a full recovery after the fact and no deficits.  



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