Baptist Health of Northeast Florida has launched a research study funded by The State of Florida to assess the hereditary probability of brain aneurysms in families. The $250,000 grant is intended to help researchers determine to what extent a family's history of brain aneurysms can play in determining the likelihood of their occurrence in later generations. The findings will then be used to advance the use of screening during routine medical exams, and finding lower-cost screening options for patients who may be at risk.
"Today, we know that if you have one or two first-degree relatives (mother, father, siblings) with a brain aneurysm, your risk of having an aneurysm increases from four to eight percent. Therefore, recent medical literature suggests screening for patients who fall into this category," said Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon and co-medical director of Baptist Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center. "With this study, we aim to understand better the epidemiology of familial aneurysms and, at the same time, understand the genetic markers for intracranial aneurysms that may provide new targets for future screening processes and therapies and potentially help us save lives."
According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, an estimated 6.5 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm---or 1 in 50 people. A brain aneurysm is a weak spot on a blood vessel in the brain that bulges and fills with blood. Unruptured brain aneurysms usually do not present any symptoms. The danger arises when an aneurysm bursts.
"A brain aneurysm rupture is essentially the neurological equivalent to a sudden heart attack," said Dr. Hanel, who is the principal investigator of the study. "It can happen to anyone, even young and healthy people. Someone can seem perfectly fine up until that singular moment. The ideal is to avoid reaching this emergency situation, and finding lower-cost screening options could help with that."
Baptist Health announced the research project today during a ceremony celebrating Gov. Ron DeSantis' proclamation recognizing September 2021 as Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month. In addition, Olivia and Phil Hoblit, founders of the Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation for brain aneurysm awareness, presented a $25,000 gift toward their Trinity Love Hoblit Foundation Endowment, which supports neurological research, training and treatment for brain aneurysms, strokes and other cerebrovascular conditions at the Sty Neuroscience Institute at Wolfson Children's Hospital and Baptist Neurological Institute.
Baptist Health representatives also thanked the Hoblits for helping to secure the funding for the Familial Brain Aneurysm Study.
"We are grateful for the support we received from Senator Aaron Bean, Olivia and Phil Hoblit, Representative Wyman Duggan and Representative Clay Yarborough for advocating for the funding for this study, and their continued support in raising awareness about brain aneurysms," said Michael D. Aubin, FACHE, hospital president of Wolfson Children's Hospital and chief philanthropy officer for Baptist Health. "Working together, we are helping to save lives."
"Raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain aneurysms is important and improves our ability to help patients before aneurysms can cause a problem. Now, with this study, we are taking further action to advance the care and treatment we offer our patients," said Nicole B. Thomas, MHA, FACHE, hospital president of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville.