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Regular physical activity and exercise may lower bleeding in people with intracerebral haemorrhage, according to research from the University of Gothenburg. The researchers stress the relevance of physical activity in brain protection.
The study, which was published in the journal Stroke and Vascular Neurology, looked at data from 686 persons who were treated for intracerebral haemorrhage at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg from 2014 to 2019. The findings are the outcome of a retrospective analysis. Although causal links cannot be established, the facts are clear: Those who reported being physically active on a regular basis had lower haemorrhages than those who reported being idle.
Physically active was defined as engaging in at least light physical activity, such as walking, cycling, swimming, gardening, or dancing, for at least four hours weekly.
The main author of the study is Adam Viktorisson, a PhD student in clinical neuroscience at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and doctor in general practice at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
“We found that individuals who engage in regular physical activity had, on average, bleeding volumes that were 50 percent smaller upon arriving to the hospital. A similar connection has previously been seen in animal studies, but no prior study has demonstrated this in humans.”
Everyone who comes to the hospital with a suspected intracerebral hemorrhage undergoes a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the brain. Depending on the severity of the hemorrhage, neurosurgery may be required. However, in most cases, non-surgical methods and medications are used to manage symptoms and promote patient recovery.
Intracerebral hemorrhage is the most dangerous type of stroke and can lead to life-threatening conditions. The risk of severe consequences from the hemorrhage increases with the extent of the bleeding.
“In cases of major intracerebral hemorrhages, there is a risk of increased pressure within the skull that can potentially lead to fatal outcomes” says Thomas Skoglund, associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Gothenburg, neurosurgeon at the University Hospital, and one of the study’s co-authors.
The findings were significant regardless of the location within the cerebrum. Physically active individuals exhibited reduced bleeding in both the deep regions of the brain, which are often associated with high blood pressure, and the surface regions, which are linked to age-related conditions like dementia.
The study creates scope for further research on intracerebral hemorrhages and physical activity. Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Gothenburg and senior consultant physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, oversees the study.
“We hope that our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of intracerebral hemorrhages and aid in the development of more effective preventive measures” she concluded.