Intracerebral Hemorrhage | Neurology


Intracerebral Hemorrhage

Intracerebral hemorrhages cause life-threatening bleeding in the brain. Our neurology team offers fast medical care and surgical procedures for this hemorrhagic stroke.

Medically reviewed by Ben Waldau, M.D. on Jan. 25, 2024.

Older man in a hospital bed with health care professionals gathered around talking to him.

What Is an Intracerebral Hemorrhage?

An intracerebral hemorrhage is a type of hemorrhagic stroke. It occurs when weakened blood vessels in your brain leak or rupture. You may also hear the terms brain bleed and intracranial hemorrhage.

Neurologists and neurosurgeons (brain and nervous system specialists) at the UC Davis Medical Center Stroke Program provide fast medical treatments. Our team specializes in the latest surgical procedures for all types of strokes.


Symptoms of Intracerebral Hemorrhages

Signs of an intracerebral hemorrhage may appear over minutes or hours. A brain bleed typically causes sudden, severe symptoms.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms vary, depending on the location of the brain bleed. You may experience:

  • Blurred vision or vision loss
  • Confusion or loss of speech
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe and sudden headache
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of your face or body

Emergency Symptoms

An intracerebral hemorrhage is a medical emergency that requires immediate care. Large brain bleeds can put excess pressure on the brain. You may experience:

  • Breathing problems
  • Extreme fatigue or sleepiness
  • Loss of consciousness

Causes and Risk Factors

An intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when blood vessels in the brain weaken and start to leak or rupture. Different health conditions can cause bleeding in the brain.

High Blood Pressure

Chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) is the primary cause of intracerebral hemorrhages. Too much pressure inside blood vessels weakens them.

Neurological Conditions

Brain tumors and cerebrovascular diseases, such as aneurysms and vascular malformations, can cause brain bleeds.

Traumatic Injury

A blow to the head from a car accident, fall or other traumatic injury can cause bleeding in the brain.


Risk Factors for Intracerebral Hemorrhages

These factors increase your risk of an intracerebral hemorrhage.


After age 55, an abnormal protein called amyloid can build up inside arteries in the brain. Called amyloid angiopathy, this condition weakens blood vessels.

Biological Sex

Hemorrhagic strokes are more common in males.

Excess Weight

Excess weight or obesity increases your risk for high blood pressure and all types of strokes.

Health Conditions

You may be at risk for brain bleeds if you have coronary artery disease, liver disease or a bleeding disorder.


The use of blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots (vein problems) increases risk.

Race and Ethnicity

People who are Black or Asian are more at risk.

Smoking and Substance Abuse

People who smoke cigarettes or have substance use disorders may be more at risk.


Diagnosis and Testing of Intracerebral Hemorrhages

Our providers quickly diagnose an intracerebral hemorrhage using these tests: 

  • Blood test to check blood sugar (glucose) and see if blood is clotting as it should
  • Medical imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI to look for bleeding in the brain

Treatments for Intracerebral Hemorrhage

Treatments for intracerebral hemorrhage depend on several factors, such as your age, overall health and the severity of the brain bleed.


Medications can help clot blood. You may also get medications to lower blood pressure.


Surgery can release excess blood and ease pressure on the brain. Providers may also perform surgery to treat an aneurysm or vascular malformation that causes bleeding in the brain.

Stereotactic Clot Aspiration

Your provider uses advanced 3D technology to locate bleeding deep inside the brain. They insert a thin needle or scope through a small opening in the skull to remove the excess blood. Blood continues to drain through a thin tube (catheter) over several days.


Preventing Intracerebral Hemorrhages

These steps may help prevent an intracerebral hemorrhage.

Manage Health Conditions

Take medications as prescribed to manage any conditions that damage blood vessels. These conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Make Healthy Choices

Regular exercise and a nutritious diet can help you lose weight (if needed) and maintain a healthy weight.

Get Help for Unhealthy Behaviors

Seek help to quit smoking or vaping, cut back on alcohol or give up harmful substances that negatively affect your health.

Who does it affect?

19MPeople worldwide have an intracerebral hemorrhage each year

Stroke incidence

30%Of strokes are intracerebral hemorrhages

Sources: American Heart Association: Deadly Type of Stroke Increasing Among Younger and Middle-Aged Adults

American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Intracerebral Hemorrhages

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