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In February 2018, professional opera singer Louise Ryan suffered a life-threatening subarachnoid hemorrhage – a rare type of stroke caused by a ruptured aneurysm in her brain.

An aneurysm occurs when a weakened blood vessel in the brain burst, causing​ bleeding in the surrounding tissues. This type of stroke can be cause permanent disability or can be fatal in around half of all cases.

Louise remembers, “I was at the gym with my husband and I suddenly felt the most excruciating pain from the top of my neck going up all the way to the front of my head. I could tell this was something serious.”

Louise was transferred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the official stroke center for Abu Dhabi, where she was stabilized in ICU and her condition assessed. Dr. Khalil Zahra​, a neurointerventional surgeon in the Neurological Institute explains that once Louise had been stabilized, the team was able to treat her using a minimally invasive procedure called endovascular coiling to prevent any further complications. Louise remained in hospital for 3 weeks while her recovery was monitored closely.  Within 3 months, she was back to her passion in life – performing with the National Symphony Orchestra as a mezzo soprano.

In October 2019, Louise returned to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to give a singing performance in gratitude for the treatment and care she received. She says, "Every single caregiver went above and beyond. Since my stroke, I have a much deeper appreciation of life and everything I’m able to do. I saw the piano in the lobby and I thought it would be a beautiful way to say thank you."

What do you know about stroke?​

Learn about what a stroke​ is, the signs and symptoms to look for, and what you can do to help prevent one happening to you or a loved one.