It should have been a day like any other for Lisa Colagrossi, a New York City journalist for WABCChannel 7. She should have reported the news and returned home to her family. Instead, on March 20, 2015, the 49-year-old mother of two, died from a ruptured brain aneurysm.
Unlike cancer and other diseases, little is known of this deadly condition. In Lisa’s case, she was experiencing one of the classic warning signs of a brain aneurysm — the worst headache of her life — but it was not recognized as a possible aneurysm. This overall lack of knowledge is what prompted Colagrossi’s husband, Todd Crawford, to create The Lisa Colagrossi Foundation (TLCF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating awareness of and education about the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for brain aneurysms.
A brain aneurysm is a weakness or thinning of the wall of a blood vessel in the brain. Eventually, the blood vessel wall begins to bulge outward. This may cause a leak or rupture and result in bleeding into the brain.
The most common signs and symptoms of brain aneurysms include the sudden onset of the following:
* Worst headache of your life
* Sensitivity to light
* Stiff neck
* Sharp pain behind one of your eyes
* State of confusion
A number of factors can contribute to the development of a brain aneurysm. Some risk factors develop over time, while some are present at birth. Common risk factors include:
* High Blood Pressure
* Head Injury
* Older Age
* Drug/Alcohol Abuse
* Family History
In addition, women and African Americans are nearly 50 percent more likely to develop a brain aneurysm.
For its part, The Foundation has been credited with saving several lives since its inception in September 2015.
One such survivor was suffering from a sudden excruciating headache. After her sister heard Crawford on the radio speaking about his work with TLCF and the signs, symptoms and risk factors of a brain aneurysm, she urged her to go to the hospital. Multiple CAT scans, one spinal tap, and six weeks later, she had lifesaving brain surgery in which two aneurysms were clipped.
Currently, an estimated 6 to 15 million people have a brain aneurysm, with an estimated 40,000 ruptures occurring every year. Of those, over 60 percent will die, and of those who survive, over 66 percent will suffer major neurological deficits.
“Brain aneurysms don’t need to result in a tragic loss,” says Crawford. “The more people that are aware of the signs, symptoms, and risk factors that accompany a brain aneurysm, the more lives that will be saved.”