Long Island’s Fifth Annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk

 Two patients recently treated for potentially life-threatening brain aneurysms will be featured on Saturday, Sept. 28, when the Brain Aneurysm Center of the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI), along with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF) host Long Island’s Fifth Annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Four-Mile Fun Run/Two-Mile Walk at Jones Beach State Park.

Proceeds from the walk benefit CNI’s Brain Aneurysm Center and the BAF, helping support essential research into how to help prevent cases of ruptured aneurysms. 

Hundreds of walkers -- including brain aneurysm survivors, their families and friends -- are expected to attend the fun-filled event. Many doctors, nurses and staff members from CNI’s Brain Aneurysm Center will also be on hand to show their support for the many patients they have treated over the years.  Among those who will be attending are David Chalif, MD and Avi Setton, MD co-directors of CNI’s Brain Aneurysm Center.

 “One of the goals of this annual event is to increase awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm,” said Dr. Chalif.  “The symptoms can include severe headache, nausea, blurred or double vision, stiff neck or neck pain, pain above or behind the eye and loss of sensation.”

At this year’s walk, two brain aneurysm survivors will share their stories in the hope of spreading awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm.

 This past June, Miele Alexander, 13, of South Floral Park, N.Y., was happily packing for her school’s senior trip when she suddenly had an excruciating headache.  Luckily, Miele’s mother knew that it was more than an ordinary headache and required immediate medical attention. She rushed her to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) in New Hyde Park, NY. Miele was seen by CCMC’s pediatric neurosurgeon Mark Mittler, MD, who determined that Miele had a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was transferred to North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in Manhasset, NY, where she was seen by Drs. Chalif and Setton.

  Miele’s case was unique and rare in that only 5 percent of brain aneurysms occur in children. It was determined that due to the size and location of Miele’s brain aneurysm, it was best to treat her by surgically clipping the aneurysm, cutting off blood flow.

Clipping a brain aneurysm is a surgical procedure performed on both ruptured and unruptured aneurysms.  In this procedure, the neurosurgeon works through a small opening in the skull and once the aneurysm is located with the operating microscope, the neurosurgeon cuts the blood flow by placing a clip across its base -- allowing blood to flow normally elsewhere in the brain. The surgery was successfully performed by Dr. Chalif and Dr. Mittler and Miele was discharged only 10 days later. 

Similar to Miele, 40-year-old Jackie Gavin from Astoria, Queens, also experienced troubling headaches.  A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed two brain aneurysms – one located behind her left eye and the other at the bottom part of her brain.

 Jackie’s neurologist referred her to Drs. Chalif and Setton, who determined she would benefit from another treatment option, a minimally invasive stent-assisted coiling procedure. A stent is an expandable tube made of titanium metal that is inserted into a blood vessel.  The stent acts as a support to provide structure for the vessel and is placed under the opening of the aneurysm. The stent secures placement of coils and maintains blood flow through the artery.  In Jackie’s case, the aneurysm behind her left eye was successfully coiled in April. For the other aneurysm, it was determined that because of its size and location it would be better to monitor it and follow up in December.

“What is amazing about Miele and Jackie is that both of them, one only a teenager and the other a young woman, paid attention to their bodies and knew that something wasn’t quite right and sought immediate medical attention,” said Dr. Chalif.  “By sharing their stories at our walk this year, they will undoubtedly help us spread awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm and save lives.  We are extremely grateful to both of them and they should be commended for their extraordinary courage and strength.”

 Registration for the walk begins at 8:30am at Jones Beach State Park, Field 5, 1000 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, NY. The start time is 10am and the event will be held rain or shine. The registration fee is $25 and includes the cost of parking and snacks. Tee-shirts will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. To pre-register for the walk, go to bafound.donorpages.com/LI2013 or call 516-562-3815. 

About North Shore-LIJ’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI)

The Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI), part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, consists of multidisciplinary clinical and research teams that provide patients with state-of-the-art treatments for the entire spectrum of neurological diseases, including brain aneurysms, AVM’s, stroke, traumatic brain injury, movement disorders, brain and spinal cord tumors, diseases of the spine, muscle and peripheral nerves, Chiari malformation, syringomyelia, neurodegenerative diseases, pain, epilepsy and neurological diseases of infancy and childhood.  To learn more about CNI and its centers of excellence, go to neurocni.com or call the Neuroscience Hotline at (516) 562-3822.


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