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Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a type of stroke that happens when a blood vessel breaks. Blood quickly fills the site around the brain and spinal cord. This space has fluid that cushions and protects the brain and spinal cord.
SAH is a threat to life. Emergency care is needed. SAH may raise the pressure around the brain. It can get in the way of how the brain works.
SAH may be caused by:
You risk may be higher with:
Symptoms may include:
If you have these symptoms, call for emergency medical services right away. Early care can lower the amount of harm to the brain.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
The fluid in your spine may need to be tested. This can be done with a lumbar puncture.
Pictures may be taken of the brain and the structures around it. This can be done with:
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SAH is a serious problem. You will need to be treated in the intensive care unit. Despite treatment, many people with SAH die.
The goals of treatment are to:
Treatment options include:
Once you are stable, you will need to be in a rehabilitation program.
Aneurysms present from birth can’t be prevented. Because they are so rare, doctors don’t advise screening for them. If an unruptured aneurysm is found by chance in a young person, the doctor may do surgery.
To lower your chance of SAH:
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation
National Stroke Association
Brain Injury Canada
Heart & Stroke Foundation
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Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 6/25/2018