Light physical activity can reduce brain haemorrhage symptoms 

Light physical activity can reduce brain haemorrhage symptoms

Four hours of light physical activity can reduce the symptoms of intracerebral brain haemorrhage, according to research from the University of Gothenburg.  

Intracerebral brain haemorrhage is the most serious type of stroke and there are very few treatment options for the condition. Around one in ten cases of stroke are caused by an intracerebral brain haemorrhage.  

The condition is caused by bleeding within the brain tissue, with a high risk of death and disability. Common symptoms of stroke include paralysis, slurred speech, loss of vision, dizziness with balance difficulties, severe headache, and loss of consciousness. 

The new study from researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg has found a clear link between physical activity and protection against severe symptoms of an intracerebral brain haemorrhage.  

The study has been published in the journal Neurology. 

Walking and cycling can have positive effects

Results showed that people who participated in light physical activity, such as walking or cycling for at least four hours a week, had a 3.5 times higher probability of mild symptoms following an intracerebral brain haemorrhage. People who exercised regularly were twice as likely to survive five years after the haemorrhage.  

“This is the first study that examines the relationship between physical activity, acute stroke symptoms and death after intracerebral haemorrhage. The results show that light physical activity, such as taking a walk or cycling for at least 35 minutes per day, markedly reduces the likelihood of severe symptoms and death after intracerebral haemorrhage,” said Adam Viktorisson, first author of the study and PhD student in Clinical Neuroscience at Sahlgrenska Academy.  

The research team analysed all patients treated for intracerebral haemorrhage at Sahlgrenska University Hospital between 2014 and 2019.  

In total, 763 people with intracerebral haemorrhage and a comparison group of 4,425 people with ischemic stroke (cerebral infarction) were included in the study. The average age of participants was 73 years, and an even number of males and females were included 

Exercise leads to improved survival rates after brain haemorrhage

Half of the patients said they were inactive before their intracerebral brain haemorrhage, one in three performed light physical activity, and less than one in 20 exercised regularly.  

Physical activity is not synonymous with exercise. Exercising means structured and repetitive physical activities done to strengthen muscles or improve fitness,” said Viktorisson.  

“Physical activity can be walking to work or going to the store. It is remarkable that even light physical activity seems to make a big difference. However, the study is based on an elderly population, for whom even light physical activities may be straining,” he added.   

The researchers drew on data from several Swedish registers: The local stroke register at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital (Väststroke), the national stroke register (Riksstroke), the Statistics Sweden Register, the Swedish National Patient Register, and the Cause of Death Register. The follow-up of mortality continued until October 2021. 

The five-year survival rate was 73% among those who were physically active before the haemorrhage, compared to 33% in those who were not physically active.  

Notably, those who were physically active but suffered from severe co-morbidity had higher survival rates, compared to those who were inactive but otherwise healthy.  

“Hopefully this study can encourage people to be more physically active. That would reduce the number of severely injured patients and give them a better quality of life, and at the same time less burden on the healthcare system,” said last author, Professor Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen. 


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