Guest post from Christine J. Buckley
Executive Director, Brain Aneurysm Foundation
Aneurysm — a scary word, but most people think it can’t apply to them. Not so fast! Nearly one in 50 individuals in the Unites States has a brain aneurysm and every year 30,000 people will suffer a brain aneurysm rupture. This will lead to death in almost 50 percent of the cases. A ruptured brain aneurysm is the leading cause of hemorrhagic stroke. This bursting of a blood vessel in the brain and subsequent blood on the surrounding brain tissue is a life ending or changing event for many, yet there is little awareness or research around the issue.
May is Stroke Awareness Month, a crucial time where the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, the American Stroke Association and all the doctors who treat both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, work together to bring to the table the discussions necessary to raise the awareness of hemorrhagic stroke. It also serves as a time to better educate the public on the signs, symptoms and risk factors of a brain aneurysm. The Brain Aneurysm Foundation was proud to join CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Walter Koroshetz — director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) — for #StrokeTalk on May 3, 2016. This initiative — through Twitter chat — discussed stroke risk factors and served to educate a broad audience about strokes of all kinds and what causes them. The FAST campaign — Face, Arm, Speech and Time — has been an outstanding initiative to ensure rapid recognition and intervention for ischemic stroke. A parallel effort for hemorrhagic stroke and brain aneurysms is more challenging. The symptoms can often be vague and subtle and easily associated with something less devastating such as ear infection (otitis media), the flu or a migraine. But when that “worst headache of your life” hits, your world is turned upside down. In the best case, you wake up in a hospital bed with loved ones at your side being told that you have been treated for a brain aneurysm. Maybe you cannot see, maybe you cannot talk or walk and maybe you do not remember the not so distant past. But you are alive, your future is changed and your new normal awaits you. This does not have to be the case.
The following are coming together to raise awareness and provide public service education:
- The medical community treating brain aneurysms;
- American Stroke Association;
- Members of the AANS and CNS; and
- Brain Aneurysm Foundation’s advocacy efforts (provided pro bono by the firm of Arnold & Porter).
This collaboration will also seek the highest levels of funding for hemorrhagic stroke and brain aneurysms. We will strive to increase early detection of brain aneurysms so there can be treatment before a rupture occurs. Just as advocates of ischemic stroke have worked diligently to save lives and promote the signs and symptoms of this devastating condition — doing so with great success — we must take a page from their playbook and not turn a blind eye to the “other stroke.”
On May 11, 2016, the Brain Aneurysm Foundation went to Capitol Hill requesting September be designated National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month. We also advocated for increased research funding for brain aneurysms, a subset of stroke. The Senate did pass a resolution, S. Res. 438, establishing September as the awareness month, and we are still rallying the House of Representatives to pass the same resolution, H. Res. 667. But greater still we are working with Senate and House champions on the Hill to increase governmental funding of brain aneurysm research as the level is entirely insufficient as highlighted below.
Despite the widespread prevalence of this condition, the federal government only spends $0.83 per year on brain aneurysm research for each person affected by the disease. The federal government spends far more on many medical conditions with similar numbers of deaths each year.
Please join us this May in support of Stroke Awareness Month and remember there is “another stroke!”
The Brain Aneurysm Foundation is the globally recognized leader in brain aneurysm awareness, education, support, advocacy and research funding. We are a resource for you and your patients. Working together, we benefit our patients. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.