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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Hemorrhagic Stroke & Treatment

Another major type of stroke is the hemorrhagic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when an artery in the brain either leaks blood or ruptures, damaging brain cells.

Conditions such as aneurysm (bulges in blood vessels) or high blood pressure increase the chances of having a hemorrhagic stroke.

There are two types of hemorrhagic stroke:

  • Intracerebral: a blood vessel inside the brain ruptures or leaks
  • Subarachnoid: a blood vessel on the surface of the brain ruptures or leaks, causing bleeding between the inner and middle layers of the membranes covering the brain

In both types of hemorrhagic stroke, the leakage of blood causes brain swelling and an increase of pressure in the skull. This pressure and inflammation damages brain cells.

What Causes Hemorrhagic Stroke?

Several conditions may cause hemorrhagic strokes, including:

  • High blood pressure: this can cause damage to the blood vessels and to the body, increasing the risk of a rupture, and stroke.
  • Aneurysm: these bulges in arteries can swell, stretch, and burst, causing a stroke. High blood pressure can make an aneurysm likelier to occur.
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs): these tangles of faulty blood vessels can rupture, causing stroke, and high blood pressure may increase the likelihood of an AVM bursting.

Treatment of Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes aren’t treated with blood thinners and anticoagulants, which would only make bleeding worse. With hemorrhagic stroke, most important is finding the cause and location of the bleeding.

Your doctor will also focus on lowering blood pressure as a way of reducing the risk of a rupture of an artery.


Depending on the source of the stroke, a number of procedures may be used to treat it, including:

  • Aneurysm clipping: this use of a tiny clip blocks off the aneurysm from the blood vessels in the brain, and prevents additional bleeding from the aneurysm.
  • Coil embolization: a thin tube (catheter) is placed into an artery in the body, which is then threaded to the aneurysm, where a tiny coil will be placed into the aneurysm, causing a clot to form, which will then block the flow of blood through the aneurysm, and prevent it from bursting in the future.
  • AVM repair: if AVMs are causing the stroke, your doctor may repair them, either by: removing them, injecting something into the AVMs to block blood flow, or using radiation to shrink the blood AVMs.
Last UpdateApril 30, 2012