A subarachnoid haemorrhage is a type of stroke and is caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain. Like all strokes, a subarachnoid haemorrhage is a very serious condition and can be fatal.
What is alarming is that a subarachnoid haemorrhage can happen without any warning signs. It usually happens when a person is engaged in physical activity such as straining himself like by lifting heavy objects, coughing, going to the toilet, or having sex.
- Sudden agonising headache which feels like a sudden hit on the head
- Stiff neck
- Feeling sick
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred or double vision
- Slurred speech
- Weakness in one side of the body
- Loss of consciousness or convulsions
The main cause of subarachnoid haemorrhage is a brain aneurysm bursting. An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel in the brain and is caused due to a weakness in the blood vessel wall.
- High blood pressure
- Inflammation of brain blood vessels
- People between 45 and 70 years more affected.
- Women are more prone to it
- Black people more affected
Treatment and diagnosis
- Diagnosis of this type of stroke starts with a CT scan. This helps the doctor check for bleeding around the brain.
- Once subarachnoid haemorrhage is confirmed or suspected, you're likely to be transferred to a neurosciences unit or an ICU.
- Treatment usually means medication will be given to help prevent short-term complications like seizures and the aneurism that caused the haemorrhage in the first place.
- This is followed by a procedure called clipping of the aneurysm. In this the aneurysm is located, following which the neurosurgeon seals it shut using a tiny metal clip that permanently clamps the aneurysm.
- Sometimes the aneurysm is sealed by a procedure called Endovascular coiling in which a thin tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery in your leg or groyne and then guided through the network of blood vessels into your head and into the aneurysm. Platinum coils are then guided into the aneurysm sealing it so that it doesn’t burst again.
Complications due to a subarachnoid haemorrhage
Short-term complications are
- Risk of further bleeding at the site of the aneurysm
- Brain damage caused by a reduction in blood supply to it
Long-term complications are
- Memory problems and problems in planning and concentration
- Mood changes like depression
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