ZocdocAnswersWhat causes a brain hemorrhage?

Question

What causes a brain hemorrhage?

A friend of mine's mom had a brain hemorrhage. She said it just happened all of the sudden. I'm worried because I get headaches a lot and now I think I could have a hemorrhage. What causes them? Can you stop them from happening?

Answer

There are many things that can cause a hemorrhage in the brain/head. Trauma, spontaneous aneurysm rupture and elevated blood pressures can all cause or contribute to developing a hemorrhage in the brain. There are also factors that can increase the risk of a bleed such as being on anticoagulation (medications such as aspirin, Coumadin/Warfarin, etc). Epidural and Subdural hematomas generally happen as a result of trauma. Epidural hematomas develop most frequently due to trauma to the side of the head which injures the middle meningeal artery and causes a bleed into the epidural space. A subdural hematoma is usually caused by shearing forces, such as a sudden/rapid stop from moving at a fast speed to a standstill (e.g. car accident). An intracranial/subarachnoid hemorrhage is a bleed within the brain tissue itself. These can happen when aneurysms rupture spontaneously. An aneurysm is a balloon like out pouching in an artery which can increase in size over time. As the size of an aneurysm increases, the risk of it rupturing increases with it. In the case of an intra-cranial hemorrhage, patients usually complain of "the worst headache of their lives". Blood pressure control can help decrease certain types of hemorrhages from occurring. If you suspect that you have a bleed in your head, you should proceed to the nearest ER and undergo a workup. However, a common headache alone is usually not enough of a reason to think that you have a hemorrhage. If, on the other hand, you experience a headache unlike any other in your life in terms of intensity and acuity of onset, then higher suspicions should be raised. Likewise, if you develop a headache or loss of consciousness after a trauma, you should be evaluated for an intracranial hemorrhage/epidural or subdural hematoma at the nearest ER.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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