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Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

When a brain aneurysm ruptures, it causes bleeding into the compartment surrounding the brain, the subarachnoid space, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Often the aneurysm heals over, bleeding stops, and the person survives. In more serious cases, the bleeding may cause brain damage with paralysis or coma. In the most severe cases the bleeding leads to death.


50% of those people die within minutes of a massive hemorrhage. Of the 50% who survive, half will suffer delayed death. The remaining survivors, depending upon the level of hemorrhage, usually live with severe long-term deficits.

Once a hemorrhage has occurred, several consequences might develop.

What Happens to the Brain When an Aneurysm Bleeds?

In most cases, after a rupture the bleeding quickly stops. However, if leaked blood touches brain cells, these cells may become damaged. Blood in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) increases the pressure on the brain.

What are the treatment options for aneurysms?

Aneurysms that have ruptured require treatment to prevent another rupture. Following the rupture of an aneurysm rebleeding is very common (especially within the first two weeks after rupture), and is usually more severe than the initial rupture. Therefore, ruptured aneurysms need to be treated immediately to prevent this risk. Aneurysms may be treated by two different methods: surgical clipping or endovascular coiling. The optimal treatment choice depends upon the patient's history, physical examination, age, risk factors, and the anatomical characteristics of the aneurysm.

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