Elderly More Vulnerable to Intracerebral Hemorrhage: Study

June 22, 2020 Updated: June 22, 2020

Incidences of intracerebral hemorrhage, a life-threatening type of stroke, has increased for the elderly, according to a new analysis of data from a decade-long research project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH) include several different conditions and generally refer to hemorrhages that happen when a diseased blood vessel ruptures within the brain. The blood leaks inside the brain and the resulting increase in pressure causes cell damage, according to the Stroke Center.

ICH is the deadliest of all strokes and causes about 10-15 percent of the cases across all age groups.

The new analysis of data from the Framingham Heart Study shows that while the intracerebral hemorrhages have stabilized among other age groups, it has increased among those above 75 years of age, reported Vasileios-Arsenios Lioutas, a neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and colleagues in JAMA Neurology, according to a statement released on June 17.

The neuroscientists who reviewed data from 1948 and 2016 also found that the use of blood thinners tripled during that time.

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“While we saw a temporal association between the use of anticoagulant medications and increased risk of intracerebral hemorrhage, these medications are crucially important in preventing more common types of strokes,” said Lioutas, one of the researchers and an assistant professor of neurology at the Harvard Medical School.

Lioutas said more intracerebral hemorrhages happened among the elderly participants of the study because they took anticoagulant medications early in life to prolong their life expectancy, causing greater risk later.

The neuroscientists participating in the research said more research and preventive measures are needed to understand trends among various age groups.

A similar study (pdf) published in the Journal of Stroke said that as patients advance in age they may face limitations during acute care and recovery from intracerebral hemorrhages.

Another study published in the Journal of Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke said there is no effective treatment for ICH and this makes its “risk stratification and management” difficult.

“Advanced age is associated with worse clinical outcomes in many conditions. In the case of ICH, this association may be independent or directly related to the pathology of multiple risk factors of stroke, such as hypertension,” said the study.

It said age worsens clinical outcomes in many health conditions and the risk of ICH in the elderly further increase because of the age-related changes to the cerebrovascular system and the aging brain.

“Older populations also have a higher probability of having a history of prior strokes, which could impair their ability to recover from and make them more susceptible to additional injuries,” it said.

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