Brain Hemorrhage (Brain Bleeding)

  • Medical Author:
    Danette C. Taylor, DO, MS, FACN

    Dr. Taylor has a passion for treating patients as individuals. In practice since 1994, she has a wide range of experience in treating patients with many types of movement disorders and dementias. In addition to patient care, she is actively involved in the training of residents and medical students, and has been both primary and secondary investigator in numerous research studies through the years. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology). She graduated with a BS degree from Alma College, and an MS (biomechanics) from Michigan State University. She received her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her internship and residency were completed at Botsford General Hospital. Additionally, she completed a fellowship in movement disorders with Dr. Peter LeWitt. She has been named a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychiatrists. She is board-certified in neurology by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. She has authored several articles and lectured extensively; she continues to write questions for two national medical boards. Dr. Taylor is a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) of the Alzheimer's Association of Michigan, and is a reviewer for the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What causes a brain hemorrhage?

The most common cause of a brain hemorrhage is elevated blood pressure. Over time, elevated blood pressure can weaken arterial walls and lead to rupture. When this occurs, blood collects in the brain leading to symptoms of a stroke. Other causes of hemorrhage include aneurysm -- a weak spot in the wall of an artery -- which then balloons out and may break open. Arteriovenous malformations (AVM) are abnormal connections between arteries and veins and are usually present from birth and can cause brain hemorrhage later in life. In some cases, people with cancer who develop distant spread of their original cancer to their brain (metastatic disease) can develop brain hemorrhages in the areas of brain where the cancer has spread. In elderly individuals, amyloid protein deposits along the blood vessels can cause the vessel wall to weaken leading to a hemorrhagic stroke. Cocaine or drug abuse can weaken blood vessels and lead to bleeding in the brain. Some prescription drugs can also increase the risk of brain hemorrhage.

What are the symptoms of a brain hemorrhage?

Although headache is frequently associated with bleeding in the brain, it is not always present. Most often, the symptoms associated with a brain hemorrhage are dependent on the particular area of the brain that is involved. If the bleeding is in the part of the brain associated with vision, there may be problems seeing. Problems with balance and coordination, weakness on one side, numbness, or sudden seizure may occur. The speech center for many people is located in the left side of the brain and bleeding into this area may cause marked speech disturbances. If the bleeding is in the lower brain (brainstem), where most of the automatic body functions are regulated, a patient may become unresponsive or go into a coma. Additionally, sometimes symptoms of brain hemorrhage may come on very abruptly and rapidly worsen. Alternatively, the symptoms may progress slowly over many hours or even days.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/29/2015
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