Intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when a diseased blood vessel within the brain bursts, allowing blood to leak inside the brain. (The name means within the cerebrum or brain). The sudden increase in pressure within the brain can cause damage to the brain cells surrounding the blood. If the amount of blood increases rapidly, the sudden buildup in pressure can lead to unconsciousness or death. Intracerebral hemorrhage usually occurs in selected parts of the brain, including the basal ganglia, cerebellum, brain stem, or cortex.
What causes it?
The most common cause of intracerebral hemorrhage is high blood pressure (hypertension). Since high blood pressure by itself often causes no symptoms, many people with intracranial hemorrhage are not aware that they have high blood pressure, or that it needs to be treated. Less common causes of intracerebral hemorrhage include trauma, infections, tumors, blood clotting deficiencies, and abnormalities in blood vessels (such as arteriovenous malformations). View an interactive tutorial on arteriovenous malformations from the Toronto Brain Vascular Malformation Study Group.
Who gets it?
Intracerebral hemorrhage occurs at all ages. The average age is lower than for ischemic stroke. Less common than ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes make up about 12 percent of all strokes.