WANTAGH, NY – More than 1,000 walkers helped raise $70,000 at Jones Beach State Park recently during Long Island’s Fifth Annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk, hosted by the Brain Aneurysm Center of the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Cushing Neuroscience Institute (CNI), along with the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF).
The money will benefit North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center and the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF), supporting essential research that may directly benefit those affected and help to reduce the incidence of ruptured aneurysms.
Brain aneurysm survivors, their families and friends attended the fun-filled event on Sept. 28. David Chalif, MD, and Avi Setton, MD, co-directors of the Brain Aneurysm Center, were among the many doctors, nurses and staff members from North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center in attendance to show their support of the many patients they have treated over the years.
“One of the goals of this 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 shared their stories in the hope of spreading awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm.
This past June, Miele Alexander, 14, of South Floral Park, N.Y., was happily packing for her school’s senior trip when she suddenly felt excruciating pain in her head. Luckily, Miele’s mother knew that it was more than an ordinary headache and 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 titanium tube 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 this year’s walk, they undoubtedly helped us spread awareness about the warning signs of a brain aneurysm and saved lives. We are extremely grateful to both of them and they should be commended for their extraordinary courage and strength.”
About North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center:
North Shore-LIJ’s The Brain Aneurysm Center offers state-of-the-art diagnosis and multimodality treatments for brain aneurysms including endovascular coiling, micro-surgical clipping and a variety of adjunctive diagnostic techniques used to improve clinical outcomes for ruptured aneurysms. In addition, the Brain Aneurysm Center is one of the few national centers with expertise in intracranial bypass surgery, including the recently FDA approved ELANA laser assisted bypass technique. For more information about the Brain Aneurysm Center, call (516) 562-3059 or visit neurocni.com.