Brain bleeds not declining among older adults, according to a new analysis

Medical doctor shows elderly patient MRI images of brain

The proportion of people who develop brain bleeds, or intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH), remained stable among most age groups over the last 30 years, but not among people 75 and older.

That’s according to a new analysis of the Framingham Heart Study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology. The use of blood thinners also tripled during the study period, but researchers noted that the benefits of preventing blood clots may outweigh their major risks.

The study documented 10,333 Framingham participants over three periods: 1948-1986, 1987-1999, and 2000-2016. Of the participants, 129 experienced ICH during study follow-up. Other notable changes that the researchers identified included an increase in prescribing warfarin during the 1990s. This was in response to clinical trials proving its effectiveness in preventing blood clots due to atrial fibrillation. Doctors prescribed additional medications in the 2000s as a preventative measure.

Researchers also found that high blood pressure plays a role in brain hemorrhages. The findings suggest the need for new preventative measures and treatments for these hemorrhages that can lead to stroke. The study was partly-funded by NHLBI.