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Fewer Deaths Occurring From Brain Bleeds
Date:6/4/2009

Better diagnosis, treatments behind decrease, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- Better diagnosis and treatment have led to fewer deaths from the rupture of a blood vessel on the surface of the brain, Dutch researchers say.

Known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, this kind of rupture leads to bleeding into the space between the brain and the thin tissue that covers the brain. It can occur spontaneously, usually from a weakness in a blood vessel or a head injury. In developed countries, the condition affects about eight in 100,000 people each year. It causes 5 percent to 10 percent of strokes, and about 30 percent of patients die within 24 hours. Of those who survive, more than 25 percent are left disabled, the researchers noted.

"Despite an increase in the mean age of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, case fatality rates have decreased by 17 percent between 1973 and 2002," said study author Dr. Dennis Nieuwkamp, from the University Medical Centre Utrecht. "This decrease coincides with the introduction of improved management strategies."

In the future, deaths might decrease even more due to newer diagnostic and therapeutic methods, Nieuwkamp added.

"This decrease will probably be limited by the substantial proportion of patients who die before reaching hospital or reach hospital in poor neurological condition," he said. "To decrease mortality from subarachnoid hemorrhage, the incidence could be further reduced by prevention strategies."

The focus should not only be on the death rate but also on disability, Nieuwkamp said. "This is important from the patients' perspective and from a societal perspective, because of the high costs from the loss of productive life-years and the long-term care of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage who become and remain disabled from a young age," he explained.

Recent advances in diagnosis and treatments include CT and MRIs for findin
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