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, 27 (3), 544-9

Risk Factors for Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Systematic Review


Risk Factors for Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Systematic Review

L L Teunissen et al. Stroke.


Background and purpose: Knowledge of modifiable risk factors for subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is important in terms of prevention. We therefore conducted a systematic review of studies on risk factors for SAH, with emphasis on sufficiently precise criteria for the diagnosis of SAH.

Methods: To identify studies we performed a Medline search from 1966 to 1994 and searched the reference lists of all relevant publications. Studies were included only if they fulfilled predefined methodological criteria. Case-control studies were included if the diagnosis of SAH was proved by CT, angiography, or autopsy in at least 70% of patients. Longitudinal studies were included if the criteria for SAH were based on a review of the medical records.

Results: Nine longitudinal studies and 11 case-control studies were included. Significant risk factors were as follows: (1) smoking (relative risk [RR] for longitudinal studies, 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 to 2.3; odds ratio [OR] for case-control studies, 3.5; 95% CI, 2.9 to 4.3); (2) hypertension (RR, 2.8; 95% CI, 2.1 to 3.6; OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 2.4 to 3.7) and (3) drinking 150 g or more of alcohol per week (RR, 4.7; 95% CI, 2.1 to 10.5; OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1 to 1.9). Use of oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, hypercholesterolemia, and physical activity were not significantly related to the risk of SAH.

Conclusions: We conclude that smoking, hypertension, and alcohol abuse are important risk factors for SAH. Reduction of exposure to these risk factors might result in a decreased incidence of SAH.

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