TUESDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of people who
survive a nearly fatal subarachnoid hemorrhage -- a type of stroke
that involves bleeding into the brain -- experience the symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers have found.
The trigger for these disabling symptoms seems to be the
survivors' fear of having another brain hemorrhage, which is most
often caused by a ruptured aneurysm. These fears may persist even
though patients' risk for a recurrence remains low, at between 1
and 3 percent, according to Adam J. Noble of King's College London
In conducting the study, published in the August issue of
Neurosurgery, Noble's team analyzed 142 patients who were assessed for PTSD symptoms up to 18 months after they had experienced a brain hemorrhage. About one in three patients met criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD, the researchers noted. Their symptoms included intrusive thoughts, avoidant behaviors and hyper-alertness that interfered with their daily activities.
The investigators found that patients with PTSD symptoms were
more fearful of having another brain hemorrhage, more pessimistic
about their odds of avoiding another such event, and also more
fearful of experiencing other unrelated life-threatening events,
such as a heart attack or lung cancer.
Those patients who were deemed most fearful were less likely to
be comforted by assurances from their doctors that they were
unlikely to have a recurrence of the brain hemorrhage, the report
Treatment that includes therapies for PTSD could help patients
with ongoing fears of recurrent brain hemorrhage, reducing their
negative thoughts and improving their daily functioning, the
researchers said in a journal news release.
"PTSD treatment could alleviate fears of subarachnoid hemorrhage recurrence and promote better outcome," Noble and colleagues wrote.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
post-traumatic stress disorder.