Identifying Risks for Brain Bleeds

New subarachnoid hemorrhage risk factors identified

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The likelihood that individuals experience certain medical conditions often depends on their risk factors for that condition. Knowing the risk factors for brain bleeds can help people reduce their chances of having one.

A recent study identified new risk factors for a type of brain bleed called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

It was previously known that smokers, people with high blood pressure and women are at higher risk for one of these hemorrhages.

New evidence shows that a past heart attack and higher cholesterol in men can also be risk factors for this type of bleed.

Subarachnoid hemorrhages are very serious and can be fatal.

"Quit smoking to reduce your risk for brain bleeds."

The study, led by Miikka Korja, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology at Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland, looked for risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage.

A subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding that occurs in the space between the brain and the thin tissues covering the brain.

The researchers tracked all the individuals who had subarachnoid hemorrhages between 1972 and 2009 in a group of 64,349 participants in the National FINRISK Study in Finland.

During a follow-up time averaging about 18 years (ranging from 0 to 38 years), a total of 437 participants experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage.  This translated to a rate of about 35 hemorrhages per 100,000 people aged 25 or older per year.

When the researchers looked at the characteristics of those who suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, they found that these incidents were more likely among females than males and among smokers than nonsmokers.

Those with high blood pressure were also more likely to experience a subarachnoid hemorrhage than those with normal blood pressure.

Having high blood pressure, being female and being a smoker were already known risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage that were confirmed in this study.

However, the study also identified new risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage.

These include having previously had a heart attack, having a mother with a history of premature stroke, and having high cholesterol levels in men.

The range of subarachnoid hemorrhage events, for those with the lowest risks to those with the most risk factors, was from 8 to 171 subarachnoid hemorrhages per 100,000 people per year.

"New and previously reported risk factors appear to have a much stronger association with the incidence of subarachnoid hemorrhages than is ordinarily seen in cardiovascular diseases," the researchers wrote.

"Risk factor assessments may facilitate the identification of high-risk persons who should be the focus of preventive interventions," they wrote.

The study was published September 9 in the journal PLOS ONE. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

The research was funded by Pro Humanitate Foundation, Maire Taponen Foundation, Emil Aaltonen Foundation, Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Biomedicum Helsinki Foundation, Orion-Farmos Research Foundation, Finnish Medical Foundation, the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Complex Disease Genetics, the Finnish Academy and the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research.

Review Date: 
September 18, 2013
Last Updated:
September 19, 2013