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Hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage

  • Definition

    Hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage is type of stroke involving bleeding in the brain caused by high blood pressure. See also:

    • Hemorrhagic stroke

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Intracerebral hemorrhage can affect anybody, but it is most common in older people.

    Hypertensive intracerebral hemorrhage is caused by long-term high blood pressure (hypertension). When blood pressure has remained high for a significant period of time, the walls of blood vessels change. Constant, high blood pressure wears away at the vessel walls and can lead to blockage of the vessels and leakage of blood into the brain. Blood irritates the brain tissues, causing swelling (cerebral edema). The blood collects into a mass called a hematoma.

    Brain tissue swelling and a hematoma within the brain put increased pressure on the brain and can eventually destroy it.

    Bleeding may occur in the hollow spaces (ventricles) in the center part of the brain or into the subarachnoid space (the space between the brain and the membranes that cover the brain). Such bleeding can cause symptoms of meningitis.

    However, even in patients without known high blood pressure, cocaine use can cause intracerebral hemorrhages.