In early October 2018, a retired Los Angeles County lifeguard experienced a life threatening stroke while swimming. Luckily for him, the right people were there at the right time.
At Providence Little Company of Mary, 64-year-old Mike Patterson of Torrance met the first responders who saved his life.
“All my life I was a competitive swimmer,” Patterson said. “I usually swim between a mile-and-a half to two miles during a workout,” he added.
Good Samaritan Andy Krikorian was swimming laps with Patterson when he looked back. “He was about halfway, hanging on to the lane line with one goggle around his head and the other one was awkwardly above his forehead,” Krikorian said. Patterson said Krikorian looked at him and asked if he was alright.
“He appeared confused,” Krikorian said. “He appeared weak and he couldn’t talk.” Patterson said Krikorian had his arm around his shoulder and was calling a lifeguard.
Luckily the lifeguard on duty was Julie Takigawa, a registered nurse. “When I looked at his face, he had the droop,” Takigawa said. “He had the generalized weakness with the paralysis on one side.” She told her staff to alert 911.
Paramedics took Patterson to the hospital just three blocks away to Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance. “It’s a comprehensive stroke center, the Little Company of Mary, which is a top tier stroke treatment center,” Capt. Duane Sweeton with the Torrance Fire Department said. Patterson said that he was treated very quickly after his stroke and he went from the pool to surgery in 42 minutes.
Thrombectomy used with a new drug NA1
“A large vessel occlusion is when a clot typically forms in the heart, travels up to the brain and the best way and the fastest way to treat that is to navigate a catheter up into the brain and pull that clot out,” Dr. Jason Tarpley, a vascular and interventional neurologist with Providence Little Company of Mary said. This specialized clot removal helps 50 percent of patients, but doctors believed they could improve Patterson’s outcome.
As he was a good candidate for an experimental stroke drug called NA1, Dr. Tarpley and team administered the drug to Patterson along with removing the blood clot in his brain. “We actually deliver a one-time dose of a neuro-protectant drug at the time of the patient’s thrombectomy,” Tarpley said. The combination therapy brought Patterson back to health.
Patterson was enrolled on the ESCAPE-NA1 trial at Little Company of Mary. “It’s a randomized double-blind trial meaning that Mike was treated with thrombectomy plus either the drug or placebo. So while we can’t say if he was randomized to receive the drug, it would however be appropriate to say that participation in the trial may increase the chances of patients having a home run outcome like Mike’s. We’ve enrolled 6 patients in the trial so far,” Dr. Tarpley said.
Patterson eats well and he’s been extremely fit his entire life, but doctors said he has atrial fibrillation or an irregular heartbeat, which is a common risk factor for a stroke due to blood clots. “I talked to him and 36 hours later and he was fine,” Krikorian said.
“Now Mike’s taking a blood thinner in the aims of him not ending up on our table again,” Dr. Tarpley added.
Mike Patterson said he was in the right place at the right time and had the right people with him.
For more information about the ESCAPE-NA1 trial or stroke and neurovascular treatments available at Providence Little Company of Mary, please call 424-212-5361.
Adapted from original article by Denise Dador for ABC7, November 21, 2018