Missouri man has stroke in Utah, but quick action saves his life

Published: Friday, June 6 2014 4:35 p.m. MDT

Mike Blackwell, from Kansas City, Missouri, is all smiles at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Friday, June 6, 2014. Tuesday, he recognized he was having a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. Because he acted quickly, he has no lingering effects from his stroke and is expected to go home in the next couple days.

Todd Hougaard, Deseret News

MURRAY — A Missouri man realized he was having a stroke and his quick thinking saved his life.

Mike Blackwell, 67, was in Salt Lake City on a business trip Tuesday. He was working at a car dealership in the service area when he began to feel light-headed.

“I got out of the car and felt a little faint,” he said. “As I walked to the back of the car, I thought, 'Boy that’s weird, maybe it’s just the heat.'”

But he said it was only 84 degrees. Then he got an email from his office in Kansas City. He called his secretary and that’s when he knew something was very wrong.

“When I started talking to her, I realized that I was slurring my words really bad, and I could barely understand myself.”

He hung up, but shortly after the call, he said he knew he needed help immediately.

“I was numb on the left side of my face, my arm, my leg,” he said. “I called her back and I said, ‘Mary, I think I’m having a stroke.'”

While keeping him on the line, Mary called the dealership and told them he was in the back having a stroke and needed an ambulance right away. A short time later, Blackwell was on his way to Intermountain Medical Center.

Kelly Anderson, the stroke program coordinator at Intermountain Medical Center, said when Blackwell arrived in the emergency room he was having slurred speech, some vision problems and some weakness. After evaluating him, they gave him IV of tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), a powerful clot-busting agent.

He was having an ischemic stroke. Anderson said Blackwell had a blood clot in the artery that supplies blood to the brain stem. These types of strokes account for about 87 percent of all cases.

“During an ischemic stroke, about 32,000 brain cells die every second, just shy of 2 million brain cells (die) every minute,” Anderson said. The faster a person gets treatment, the faster blood flow can be restored to the brain.

The biggest thing that saved his life, Anderson said, was he quickly recognized he was having a stroke and got help right away. “He knew the importance of not waiting to see if it was going to get worse,” she said.

Blackwell had a stroke five years ago, but he said the symptoms were different. He said he was grateful for the care he has received.

Just two days after the stroke, he was walking and talking like normal and has no lingering effects from his stroke, hospital officials said.

“This is why I come to work every day,” Anderson said. “It's great to see someone who was on the verge of having a life-altering disability, and he's going to walk out of here in the next couple days."

Email: vvo-duc@deseretnews.com

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