A brain aneurysm can happen to anyone.

They often go unnoticed until they rupture because people don’t have symptoms they think are serious enough to report.

But after the death of a young mother in North Carolina, doctors are warning people to pay attention to their bodies.

Source: Eric Broadway via People

Lee Broadway had experienced migraines ever since childhood, but she knew something was different about a sudden headache she experienced shortly after her husband left for work one morning.

The mother of 4 said she was experiencing “the worst headache of her life,” according to her husband Eric.

Source: Eric Broadway via People

The couple’s children were all out of town at the time and Eric rushed home immediately to take his wife to the ER.

“I knew this couldn’t be good because I’ve seen her deal with pain before,” he told People Magazine.

Two days later, Eric said a heart-wrenching goodbye to his middle school sweetheart and the mother of his children who succumbed to complications from a brain aneurysm.

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Now, doctors are telling patients – especially women, whose pain often goes underreported (and undertreated) – to beware the signs of sudden and severe headaches.

A brain aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel in the brain. These can form without any symptoms at all and often go undiscovered until they leak or rupture and become deadly, often causing a stroke.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Once an aneurysm ruptures, people often experience sudden and excruciating headaches, unlike anything they’ve ever felt.

A severe and sudden headache is something that should not be ignored and should prompt a visit to the closest ER.

According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include:

  • Sudden, extremely severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seizure
  • A drooping eyelid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

A leaking aneurysm often precedes a rupture and can result in an excruciating headache.

Source: Pexels

However, in some cases, an aneurysm that hasn’t yet leaked or ruptured can still cause symptoms that require a doctors attention, especially if it grows large enough to press on nerves or brain tissue.

People should see a doctor if they experience the following symptoms just in case they can catch an aneurysm before it becomes potentially deadly:

  • Pain above and behind one eye
  • A dilated pupil
  • Change in vision or double vision
  • Numbness of one side of the face

Unfortunately for the Broadway family, Lee’s aneurysm, which was originally thought to be a “2 out of 5” in seriousness resulted in complications after the doctors told Eric she was out of the woods.

After 10 hours of surgery, the doctor asked to meet with Broadway’s family in the conference room. That’s when she told them there was nothing more they could do for Lee.

“I ran out and lost it,” said Eric.

Lee had bled out and was considered brain dead.

Source: Legacy.com

While we don’t know exactly what causes people to form brain aneurysms, there are things that can put you at higher risk for developing one. While they are more common in older people and in women and some are present at birth, others develop over time more often in people who smoke, have high blood pressure, use drugs (particularly cocaine), or drink heavily.

They can also occur after a head injury or certain blood infections.

While not every severe headache warrants a trip to the ER, if you experience one suddenly that you feel is worse than others you’ve experienced, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Source: Mayo ClinicPeople Magazine