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Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Life Expectancy

A subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a serious medical condition that can potentially contribute to permanent brain damage. This is the main reason why physicians keep such patients under constant monitoring, and they work hard to stabilize the condition and reduce the size of the bleeding.

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The long-term prognosis for people that have experienced SAH is somewhat good, as long as proper hemorrhage management has occurred. A few additional conditions will have to be met, as well.

SAH Outcomes

Whether it occurs in children or adults, SAH is a serious medical condition that can cause death and permanent brain damage. This type of hemorrhage is trickiest whenever its occurrence is asymptomatic. In such instances, physicians can do very little to manage the condition, and it’s often identified post-mortem.

Several studies have been carried out to assess the outcome of SAH.

Elk & Elk

One of the trials was presented in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry in 2011. It involved 1,154 patients with SAH. The patients came to the hospital for treatment, and a follow-up occurred nine years later.

Of all patients, four percent died within a week of the SAH diagnosis. Thirteen percent of the patients died during the follow-up period. The medics concluded that there was no delayed mortality as a consequence of the hemorrhage. All the surviving patients underwent frequent scans. No new brain hemorrhages were identified.

It’s important to point out that all of the patients who died in the week after the diagnosis had a severe subarachnoid hemorrhage. The severity of the bleeding is one of the factors most strongly associated with a negative or a fatal outcome for the patient.

Life Expectancy: Let’s Take a Look at the Numbers

While the previous study demonstrates that the SAH mortality rate isn’t that high, it fails to examine the average life expectancy for people diagnosed with such a hemorrhage.

Researchers presented another clinical trial in Stroke Journal in 2007. The cohort consisted of 160 patients who had been admitted for hospital treatment from 1983 to 2005. All of them suffered from SAH and medics followed up in all of the cases to establish the life expectancy. For the patients that had died, researchers requested the cause of death and the age.

During the follow-up, there were no new cases of subarachnoid hemorrhages in the patients. Of all 160, 11 died. The expected number of deaths, as based on general population mortality rates was 18.1. Thus, researchers concluded that patients with a subarachnoid hemorrhage have a normal life expectancy and the risk of re-bleeding is minimal to non-existent.

Additional Facts and Clinical Evidence

It’s relatively easy to conclude that SAH may cause death immediately after the diagnosis, especially if the hemorrhage is a massive one. If a patient is stabilized in this initial phase, the prognosis for them is a good one.

UCLA Health warns, however, that a third of the people who experience SAH will either die, or they will experience severe, permanent neurological damage. While many children will survive the hemorrhage itself, the risk of complications lasting a lifetime is high. Once again, this risk is heavily dependent on the size of the bleeding and its position.

The life expectancy is also dependent on how soon treatment was administered and whether vasospasm occurred as a consequence of SAH.

Also, there isn’t a general consensus among researchers, and clinical trials produce conflicting findings. While the study quoted above didn’t see a serious life expectancy deviation in patients with SAH, observations by the Department of Neurosurgery in Helsinki are quite different.

Medics treated SAH patients between 1980 and 2007. Follow-up started one year after the treatment, and it ended in 2008. After 20 years of observation, patients surviving SAH showed an 18 percent higher mortality rate than the general population. Some of the risk factors included multiple aneurysms, conservative treatment for SAH, age and unfavorable clinical outcome at the three-month follow-up.

Accurate diagnosis early on is critical. The initial hemorrhage itself is the one that will often be fatal or lead to neurological complications. As long as proper management occurs upon the diagnosis of SAH, the prognosis for such patients is favorable.