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Subarachnoid hemorrhage

The meaning of «subarachnoid hemorrhage»

Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is bleeding into the subarachnoid space—the area between the arachnoid membrane and the pia mater surrounding the brain.[1] Symptoms may include a severe headache of rapid onset, vomiting, decreased level of consciousness, fever, and sometimes seizures.[1] Neck stiffness or neck pain are also relatively common.[2] In about a quarter of people a small bleed with resolving symptoms occurs within a month of a larger bleed.[1]

SAH may occur as a result of a head injury or spontaneously, usually from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm.[1] Risk factors for spontaneous cases include high blood pressure, smoking, family history, alcoholism, and cocaine use.[1] Generally, the diagnosis can be determined by a CT scan of the head if done within six hours of symptom onset.[2] Occasionally, a lumbar puncture is also required.[2] After confirmation further tests are usually performed to determine the underlying cause.[2]

Treatment is by prompt neurosurgery or endovascular coiling.[1] Medications such as labetalol may be required to lower the blood pressure until repair can occur.[1] Efforts to treat fevers are also recommended.[1] Nimodipine, a calcium channel blocker, is frequently used to prevent vasospasm.[1] The routine use of medications to prevent further seizures is of unclear benefit.[1] Nearly half of people with a SAH due to an underlying aneurysm die within 30 days and about a third who survive have ongoing problems.[1] Between ten and fifteen percent die before reaching a hospital.[4]

Spontaneous SAH occurs in about one per 10,000 people per year.[1] Females are more commonly affected than males.[1] While it becomes more common with age, about 50% of people present under 55 years old.[4] It is a form of stroke and comprises about 5 percent of all strokes.[4] Surgery for aneurysms was introduced in the 1930s.[5] Since the 1990s many aneurysms are treated by a less invasive procedure called endovascular coiling, which is carried out through a large blood vessel.[6]

The classic symptom of subarachnoid hemorrhage is thunderclap headache (a headache described as "like being kicked in the head",[3] or the "worst ever", developing over seconds to minutes). This headache often pulsates towards the occiput (the back of the head).[7] About one-third of people have no symptoms apart from the characteristic headache, and about one in ten people who seek medical care with this symptom are later diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage.[4] Vomiting may be present, and 1 in 14 have seizures.[4] Confusion, decreased level of consciousness or coma may be present, as may neck stiffness and other signs of meningism.[4]

Neck stiffness usually presents six hours after initial onset of SAH.[8] Isolated dilation of a pupil and loss of the pupillary light reflex may reflect brain herniation as a result of rising intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull).[4] Intraocular hemorrhage (bleeding into the eyeball) may occur in response to the raised pressure: subhyaloid hemorrhage (bleeding under the hyaloid membrane, which envelops the vitreous body of the eye) and vitreous hemorrhage may be visible on fundoscopy. This is known as Terson syndrome (occurring in 3–13 percent of cases) and is more common in more severe SAH.[9]

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