League City EMS medics pose with members of the UTMB Health Stroke team.

Doctor praises quick EMS action with stroke case

League City EMS spotted signs of stroke in a 26-year-old woman and took her to UTMB Health Clear Lake Hospital. That quick action saved her life. They did the right thing that led to a good outcome, said Dr. Hashem Shaltoni, director of the UTMB Health Stroke Program.

“They took her to the hospital, even though she was young,” he said.

At the hospital, the medical team performed a thrombectomy for a large vessel occlusion (LVO), a type of stroke. The woman, who returned to her normal routine of work and life, continued to follow up with Dr. Shaltoni in clinic after the procedure.

“It is unusual to have a stroke when you are only 26,” Dr. Shaltoni said. It is mainly a disease of the elderly. “However, there is a subset of stroke patients—15%—who are young like her with specific underlying causes like hypercoagulable blood or trauma with damage to the neck or brain arteries,” Dr. Shaltoni said.

“But in her case, it was blood clots in her enlarged heart likely from viral illness—we think.” 

An LVO indicates a large artery in the brain is clogged with a blood clot that usually results in severe neurological deficit or death if a doctor doesn’t open it fast. LVO makes up about 20% of all stroke cases.

“We were able to get to the clogged artery quickly via a tiny catheter from the main artery in the upper thigh and remove the blood clot with suctioning,” Dr. Shaltoni said.  “No open surgery.”   The outcome was good, he said. The woman was able to once again function normally after being completely paralyzed.  

UTMB Health sees more than 1,500 stroke cases a year.

Dr. Shaltoni offered this takeaway for EMTs and paramedics: “Stroke could happen to anyone and taking patients with suspected stroke to a stroke center like UTMB Health’s Clear Lake, League City and Galveston campuses is the way to go."