Understanding Intracerebral Hemmorhage

When blood vessels within the brain become damaged, they are more likely to burst and cause a hemorrhage. An intracerebral brain hemorrhage (ICH) is bleeding in the brain caused by the rupture of a damaged blood vessel in the head. As the amount of blood increases, the build-up of pressure can lead to brain damage, unconsciousness or even death.

ICH affects people of all ages. Because it is most commonly caused by high blood pressure—which shows no symptoms—ICH often goes undetected until a major event occurs. In other cases, ICH may be triggered by trauma, infections, tumors, blood clotting deficiencies and abnormalities in the blood vessels.

There are three basic types of ICH:

  • hypertensive hemorrhage, caused by chronic high blood pressure
  • arteriovenous malformation, caused by congenital defects
  • amyloid angiopathy, caused by the weakening of blood vessels due to aging

You are at greater risk for ICH if you:

  • have high blood pressure
  • smoke
  • have had a recent stroke
  • are African-American or Hispanic

The symptoms of ICH can include:

  • headache
  • double vision
  • unconsciousness
  • feeling numb or weak on one side of the body
  • abnormal sense of taste
  • difficulty swallowing, speaking, reading or writing
  • loss of balance or coordination
  • nausea

If you experience these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

ICH can be life threatening and require surgical, medical or interventional neuroradiology treatment. Like other types of stroke, ICH is best treated at a facility like Johns Hopkins Bayview that is recognized for its expertise, resources, safety protocols and patient outcomes.

Learn more about the different types of stroke.