Take Care After Brain Bleed

Subarachnoid hemorrhage patients need to quit smoking and watch blood pressure and cholesterol

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Living through a brain bleed may provide a second chance to quit smoking. Kicking the habit and taking care of blood pressure and cholesterol can help keep these patients alive.

A recent study looked at a group of patients in Finland who had experienced a brain bleed between the brain and the tissue that surrounds the brain. Researchers found that people who had experienced this type of bleed were more likely to die within a year of the bleed if they were smokers or had high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Helping patients quit smoking and manage blood pressure and cholesterol after a brain bleed could extend their lives.

"Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting smoking."

Miikka Korja, MD, PhD, from the Department of Neurosurgery at Helsinki University Central Hospital, and Jaakko Kaprio, MD, PhD, director of the Department of Public Health at Helsinki University, worked with a team to investigate the risk of death after subarachnoid hemorrhage.

The subarachnoid space is the area between the brain and the thin tissues around the brain. A subarachnoid hemorrhage is when bleeding occurs in this area. The most common cause of subarachnoid hemorrhage is a burst brain aneurysm. Smoking and heavy drinking are risk factors for developing a brain aneurysm that can burst and cause a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Dr. Korja said, “It is particularly important for subarachnoid hemorrhage survivors to refrain from smoking and to take care of their blood pressure and cholesterol levels; apart from age, these are the primary factors behind the increased risk of mortality.”

Researchers looked at the National FINRISK Study between 1972 and 2007 for subarachnoid hemorrhage patients between the ages of 25 and 74 and followed up with the Finnish Causes of Death Register in 2009.

For this study, 233 subarachnoid hemorrhage cases were evaluated one year after occurrence.

Overall, 38 percent of the 233 died within 12 months of experiencing a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Researchers compared the subarachnoid hemorrhage patients to age- and gender-matched people in Finland who had not experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Comparison showed vascular disease in the brain from smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were the causes of death in patients who had experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Authors recommended healthcare professionals implement intervention strategies to help with smoking cessation and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure in people who have experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Dr. Kaprio said, “Changes in the way of life may reduce both the occurrence of subarachnoid hemorrhage as well as the mortality of patients who have recovered from it.”

This study was published in January in Neurology.

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Review Date: 
January 25, 2013
Last Updated:
January 30, 2013