Hemorrhagic and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Strokes

Previously published in examiner

Part 5 of the stroke series

The Montreal Neurological Institute is a world renown research center and hospital specializing in the diseases of the brain. Montrealers are fortunate to be able to have such state of the art care for strokes.

Hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding and occurs when blood vessels leak or rupture. The leaks and ruptures can occur for several reasons including high blood pressure, and weakening of the blood vessel walls (aneurysms). Or a hemorrhagic stroke is caused by an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which is an abnormal tangle of thin-walled blood vessels present at birth.

There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes

Intracerebral hemorrhage

A blood vessel will burst in the brain and spill into the surrounding brain tissue to cause an intracerebral hemorrhage. The brain cells beyond the leakage will also damage. Hypertension is the cause of this type of hemorrhagic stroke. With time high pressure causes the small blood vessels to become brittle, crack, and rupture inside the brain.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage

A subarachnoid hemorrhage happens when bleeding in the artery occurs close the top of the brain and the blood flows out of the artery into the spaces between the skull and surface of the brain. Sufferers will experience a sudden excruciating headache known as a “thunderclap.” The subarachoid hemorrhage usually is the result of an aneurysm which can be present at birth or brought on with age and lifestyle. After the hemorrhage, the blood vessels can vasospasm meaning they will continue to contract and restrict repeatedly causes even more vessel damage by limiting blood flow.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is often called a ministroke and mimics the symptoms of stroke. The transient ischemic attack (TIA) The cause of this kind of stroke is a temporary restriction of the blood supply to part of the brain. The symptoms only last for about five minutes.

If you should have a transient ischemic attack, see your doctor immediately. Do not forgot about it just because the symptoms have gone away. This type of attack means there may be a blocked artery in the brain that needs attention before a full stroke occurs. It is not possible to diagnose a stroke or ministroke after the symptoms have disappeared. The doctor needs to assess the situation immediately to have a clearer picture of what is going on.