Long Island’s Seventh Annual Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk Benefiting North Shore-LIJ’s Brain Aneurysm Center

Brain Aneurysm Walk 2015
Brain aneurysm survivors, along with North Shore-LIJ's staff, at last year's Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk

Two patients recently treated for potentially life-threatening brain aneurysms will be featured on Saturday, Sept. 26, 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 Seventh 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. 

The walk will feature two survivors – former New York City Police Detective Mitchell Smith of Wantagh and Maggie Story of Richmond Hill in Queens, who will share their stories.

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.”

Last summer, Mr. Smith, 52, was out fishing with his nephew in Reynolds Channel near Jones Beach.  He recalls that suddenly he had the worst headache of his life and told his nephew to call 911. The 911 operator asked his nephew if Mr. Mitchell would be able to steer the boat toward Jones Beach, Field 5, where an ambulance would meet him.   It took about five minutes to get there and he was immediately taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans revealed a ruptured brain aneurysm and the patient was transferred to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.  Dr. Chalif surgically clipped 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.

Ms. Story, 61, of Richmond Hill, Queens, showed a different symptom of a persistent pulsating in her neck, which she had since 2013.  While originally told everything looked fine during her physical examination, she went back to her doctor for another check-up a year later knowing that something wasn’t quite right with the rapid pulsating feeling she was still having in her neck.  An MRI revealed that she had a large brain aneurysm. 

In May 2014, Ms. Story was referred to Dr. Setton, who performed another treatment option for brain aneurysms, 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 her case, there is a family history -- her father passed away from a ruptured brain aneurysm.  Since she, too, suffered a brain aneurysm, she is encouraging her two brothers and four sisters, as well as her own two children, to be screened.

“What is amazing about Mitchell and Maggie is that they both paid attention to their bodies and knew that something wasn’t quite right and sought immediate medical attention,” said Dr. Chalif.  “With Maggie’s story, there is an additional lesson to be learned in that if you have a family history of brain aneurysms, it is recommended that family members be screened. By Mitchell and Maggie 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 through September 12th.  After September 12th, the registration fee is $30, so register early!  Entry fee includes the cost of parking and snacks. Tee-shirts will be handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis. To pre-register for the walk, go to give.bafound.org/2015LongIsland or click here.

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.

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