Headaches Before hemorrhagic stroke?

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My brother had a headache for two days.  On the third day his headache became severe. He had flashing lights that were worse in the right eye.

He was kept in over night.  He was diagnosed with migraine and despite my concerns was sent home.  He collapsed as soon as we arrived home.  We called another ambulance that took him to another hospital.  Where a CT scan confirmed he'd suffered a stroke.  He has now been left blind.

Does anyone know if you can suffer headache for a few days before a stroke occurres?   Or is a stroke instant?   I am trying to pin point the time the stroke happened.  Thank you.



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17 Replies

  • Posted

    He should have had a CT scan of his brain within 24 hours of admission. If it was a subarachnoid hemorrhage it was caused by a ruptured cerebral aneurysm.
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  • Posted

    Having had a haemorrhagic stroke myself, I can confirm that it is not instant. It can start as a minor bleed on the brain and then get worse. Ischaemic strokes (blood clot) have a tendency to be more instant because of the clot, but this often passes and these type of stroke account for about 88% of strokes, whereas haemorrhagic strokes are a bleed and need medical intervention and account for just 12% of strokes.

    This is why it is so important that a scan is done immediately so that intervention can begin as early as possible before more damage is done. When I was admitted to hospital, I had a CT scan done within the hour.

    In my opinion (I am not a doctor) the bleed would have started just before his symptoms started. Haemorrhagic strokes are usually cause by two reasons, spontaneous, where a blood vessel bursts, mainly due to hypertension such as excessive alcohol consumption, obesity etc. or by trauma, such as a fall and banging the head.

    Haemorrhagic strokes are much more serious than ischaemic strokes and the mortality rate much higher and the chance of making a complete recovery very low.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for that.  So although he had suffered from headache for the few days before.  It is possible the full stroke wasn't until he was in the hospital.  Is that correct?   

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  • Posted

    No, I'll try to explain better.

    Blood clot strokes, happen with usually a piece of plaque (artery wall build up) breaking off in a blood vessel and blocking it, causing the blood flow to the brain to stop. This tends to lead to an actual acute point of the stroke.

    With a bleed stroke, it can start with a very small bleed, so the symptoms can be less. But if left untreated, they get progressively worse, leading usually to coma, then death. Quite often the bleed will push the brain (due to pressure of the blood) around on its stem, leading to something called midline shift.

    So, your brother had the stroke when he first got the symptoms or shortly before. The fact that it was not diagnosed promptly, meant that it got worse. Hospitals can treat the bleed, by various methods, one is to give blood product transfusions such as platelets and plasma, that stabilise the patient and try to clot the bleed so that the body can repair itself.

    So, he had the stroke when the symptoms started, it just got worse before he got better, because of the delay in treatment and diagnosis. A bleed on the brain is progressive, it has the start point and gets worse until treated. Your brother may have suffered blindness anyway, but the delay in treating him has not helped and has surely made things worse.

    I hope things get better for your brother. One thing I will mention, is don't expect lots of explanations or aftercare - by aftercare I just mean someone to help you and your brother psychologically to come to terms with what has happened. I spent almost two months in hospital, where I was sent from the original hospital, because they planned to do neuro surgery on me. When I was discharged, my wife came to pick me up and asked the ward nurse if there was anything she needed to know and the nurse just said no, here's his medication, bye.

    I then attended the stroke rehab hospital and the consultant I saw wrote, no rehab needed, make sure he books an appointment at the job centre. I blew a fuse at this and my GP got me booked in and I had nine months physical rehab, plus some time with the speech therapist and psychiatrist.

    I recommend contacting the stroke organisation (just Google that) because they are very good and helpful. I don't just mean giving soothing words, the people on the phone are exceptionally knowledgeable and don't just read from a script.

    PS Obviously if he is permanently blind in both eyes, he will get a different level of aftercare, because he will come under disabled.

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much.  That really helps.  I made a complaint to the hospital regarding his discharge.  It's taken weeks,  but the investigation report was finally shared with us last Friday.

      It clearing states he should not have been discharged.  CT/MRI scans should have been done.  And guidelines were not followed.  In fact the report is quite damning.   

      Because of the report findings and how disabled my brother is,  I want to take this further.  My solicitor said we will be able to prove breach of duty of care. 

      The solicitor  said that because he'd been unwell for a few days, it has to be shown that any treatment given at the hospital would have helped control the stroke. And that it wasn't already too late to avoid the damage done.

      The neurologist she has consulted is on holiday.  So we have to wait until his return.

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    • Posted

      I forgot to add I know what you mean about help.  My brother hasn't been offered any help from anyone. We approach people and organisations who promise to get back to us.  No one ever does.  

      He had the stroke in April.  And his first appointment with the ophthalmologist isn't until 21st Sept..  

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    • Posted

      Okay, well as I was going to say that it would be worth applying to both hospitals for his patient records, because you often learn quite a lot from those, far more than you are told. But that may not be possible now, because the legal process has begun.

      A few years ago, my friend's wife committed suicide through alcohol and paracetamol. She was also an ICU nurse at an NHS hospital. so that put a bit of a twist on it. As he had never worked in an office, he didn't really understand paperwork and all things connected. So I ended up doing the probate for him and then he asked me to come along to the coroner's inquest.

      The one thing I vividly remember that coroner saying (uninvited) was that if my friend was going to go legal, to get any information from the hospital first before mentioning legal action. His reason for saying this was, he said that the NHS by law has to give you all the help you ask for and co-operate with you, as soon as you mention legal action, they will shut up shop and their legal department takes over and they are entitled to do this.

      For some reason there was a second inquest, much more formal, and in the city with the NHS having solicitors/barristers representing them. He still to this day, can't tell me (doesn't remember) why he didn't ask me along for this one. As a side story, his wife worked in ICU at the hospital I was transferred to and put in ICU. How I wished she'd still been there when I was there, a familiar face and friend would have helped so much.

      I may be wrong (it does happen) but I would be surprised if the solicitor gets a reply back from the neurologist and is not referred to the legal department. The NHS has a big legal department and because of the very nature and size of the business are dealing with claims all the time. Make sure your solicitor is familiar with the NHS.

      'it has to be shown that any treatment given at the hospital would have helped control the stroke. And that it wasn't already too late to avoid the damage done.'

      I should imagine they'll find this hard to defend, because all the guidance on strokes says speed is of the utmost importance and in the case of haemorrhagic strokes I quote from the Stroke Organisation leaflet:

      'Anyone with a suspected stroke should go to hospital immediately. A brain scan (a CT

      or MRI scan) should be carried out as soon as possible and within 24 hours to confirm

      the diagnosis of stroke. A brain scan should take place immediately if the symptoms

      include a severe headache or a low level of consciousness.'

      It would be hard for them to prove the damage was already done before the first visit, because they did not do a CT scan. 

      Commenting on your two other posts. Yes, I did put don't expect too much help, not to disappoint you, but to help with the frustration and confusion that it is not you imagining this, they pretty much abandon everyone in this way and you are not on your own. As for forums, there is a dearth of them for strokes, I have yet to find a good one. I thought there would be many people wanting to talk about their experience but that doesn't seem to be the case. One reason I suspect is, most clot strokes (85%+ of strokes) happen in older people are not so devastating and their have often retired and are more sedentary. Haemorrhagic strokes hit a different demographic, victims are much younger around 50 (I was 48 approaching 49 when I had mine), they are more devastating and happen to people who are still very active and probably at the peak of their earning career.

      It does hit people quite hard, I remember my GP saying to me, a week after I got out of hospital, 'you know of course, you'll never be the same again'. I thought what a silly thing to say, I now understand exactly what he meant and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it, over three years later.

      Some things to consider, your brother will have mood swings, this is natural. Just because they discharge you from hospital does not mean you are okay. It takes months for the brain fog of a stroke to clear. He will most likely be suffering from fatigue and want to sleep in the afternoon, this is normal and it does eventually go away, if he does, he should just allow his body to sleep to help repairing itself.

      Medication is another thing, I don't know if he is on much. If he is on amlodipine, keep an eye out for that, it has many side effects in many people and these effects can creep up over time.


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    • Posted

      Further to my other reply which is waiting to be moderated, it might be worth asking the hospital where his bleed was on the brain, because this should tell you what functions may be affected. For example, someone whose frontal lobe affected is more likely to have their personality affected.
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  • Posted

    Hi Sue I was suffering with migraines before I had my stroke then on the morning I was having the stroke my head felt like it was exploding I was at work on nights at the time and my vision went and although I had suffered with vision problems during a migraine I knew this was far worse as I was violently sick A and E gave me morphine for the pain!! and said I was having a bad migraine!!!! that was a Saturday morning after trips every day mon to Thursday to the doctors not being able to see properly I finally blew my top in the doctors and started screaming at him that something was seriously wrong and the fact that I had had this headache that I would have sawed my own head off to stop the pain and yet I had not received a scan of any kind? he sent me to hospital and the CT scan showed I had suffered an occipital stroke that was 2 and a half years ago now and my peripheral vision has still not returned to normal all be it I'm coping and driving with what I've been left with and having to adjust to it. I still feel peed off that the hospital never diagnosed me that Saturday morning perhaps I could have had that blood clot busting drug and I would have had no lasting effects from the stroke but he ho "If ifs and buts were candies and nuts we'd all have a merry Christmas" so the anger I had to begin with has evaporated over the last 2 years I really hope that your brother makes a full recovery there are some really good forums on Facebook that I found really helpful how old is your brother?? and yes I had the flashing lights in my eyes that was worse in my right eye too the stroke was right sided to me which affected my left side vision hope this helps if you have anything else you want to ask please do I know how you want to find out everything to begin with to try and understand why it happened all the best to you and best wishes and hugs to your brother xx

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    • Posted

      Thank you.  My brother is 50.   You would think the medical staff would be more careful wouldn't you.   Especially if you are worried.  I'm glad you recovered enough to be able to drive.  I think that's one of the main things that is getting to my brother.  The fact he will never drive again.

      I did look on facebook for stroke groups.  The only one I found was an american group.  I did join,  and they are all very friendly.  But would have liked to find a Uk based one.  


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  • Posted

    Hi Sue there is a group on Facebook called Different strokes for younger people I'm in that one and life after stroke I'm in there as Tania Clayton ignore my funny profile picture nothing to do with my stroke I may add lol add me my lovely and any help I can offer will gladly do so x

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    • Posted

      Thank you Tania.

      I found the life after stroke group.  I have applied to join.  I could not find the Different strokes for younger people group though.   

      I wasn't able to find you on facebook either.  There were a lot of people with your name.  By funny profile pic did you mean with large glasses?    x

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    • Posted

      Hi Fraggles,

      I did look for the groups on Facebook but couldn't find them (found you okay).

      I would like to have a look at them, would you PM me with the links?


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