Wednesday, October 12, 2016
When you get a headache, you probably take aspirin and try to shrug it off. But sometimes headaches are warning signs of something much more serious — a stroke, a condition that’s similar to a heart attack but affects the brain. More than 795,000 people in the US suffer from a stroke every year, and of those, about 130,000 die from it. According to one survey, while 60% of people knew that severe headache with no known cause could signal stroke, only 38% of people could recognize all the major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 right away.
Unfortunately, knowing when your headache spells trouble can be difficult. There are generally two types of stroke
Type One: Ischemic (Blockage-Type Brain Attack)
What it is: About 85% of strokes are ischemic, which occur when a blockage prevents a blood vessel from providing blood to the brain.
Headache symptoms: Most ischemic strokes don’t cause headaches. But some types, such as arterial dissections (blockage in an artery supplying the brain) and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (blockage in veins draining blood from the brain), can produce a splitting headache. Sometimes people with headaches due to arterial dissections also have teary eyes on one side, as well as weakness or numbness on the side of their body opposite the headache,
People with headaches due to venous sinus thrombosis may also have blurry vision and/or seizures.
Type Two: Hemorrhagic (a.k.a. Bleeding-Type Brain Attack, or Brain Bleed): There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes: subarachnoid and intracerebral.
An intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke, which accounts for around 12% of all brain attacks, occurs when a weakened blood vessel or aneurysm bursts, causing a brain bleed. Hypertension is the most common risk factor for an intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke.
A subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a bulge in a blood vessel (a.k.a aneurysm) within the covering layers of the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in the space surrounding the brain. While subarachnoid hemorrhagic strokes are less common, accounting for around 3% of all brain attacks, their results are often devastating. Janardhan says about 10% of people suffering from a brain bleed die immediately, and of the remaining 90% who make it to the ER, about half will die within 30 days.
Headache symptoms: An intracerebral hemorrhage, which most often occurs in people with high blood pressure or less frequently from an underlying vascular malformation (AVM), causes sudden, severe headaches. People with subarachnoid hemorrhagic strokes often complain of suddenly experiencing the worst headache of their lives. “I’ve had patients say that the headache associated with a ruptured brain aneurysm feels like something is erupting in their head and is a headache unlike anything they’ve ever experienced,”