Published on November 01, 2021

Joel Bautista Stroke Patient

One morning in August of 2020, Canyon Country resident Joel Bautista woke up with a headache. Joel is very active and hates to miss a day of exercise, “so I decided I could work it off,” he said.

Exercise didn’t help. Instead, Joel’s condition worsened. He became extremely dizzy and nauseous and realized he needed to go to the hospital. A neighbor drove him there.

“I was sure I had COVID,” Joel said.

It turns out Joel was having a “basilar artery stroke.” These strokes occur when a blood clot lodges in the basilar artery. If not treated promptly these kinds of strokes can be fatal. In fact, patients who experience basilar artery strokes “have a mortality rate of greater than 85%” according to Melody Halio, Henry Mayo’s Stroke Program Nurse Navigator.

The challenge with basilar artery strokes is that they can be extremely hard to diagnose, because the patients don’t exhibit the usual stroke symptoms, such as facial drooping or weakness on one side. Joel’s diagnosis was more challenging because he was bantering with the Henry Mayo Emergency Department staff.

remember talking to one of the nurses and praising the watch he was wearing,” Joel said.

Fortunately, Henry Mayo Emergency Medicine physician Heather Flaherty, MD, and the Henry Mayo Emergency Department (ED) team used their exceptional diagnostic skills to pinpoint Joel’s condition. It’s extremely important for basilar artery stroke patients to receive appropriate treatment quickly, which he did thanks to the diagnosis by Dr. Flaherty and the ED team.

Today the father of four is feeling great and back to his old workout routine. “Really, it was a miracle. I owe everything to my medical team,” he says.

For the ninth consecutive year, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital has received the American Heart Association’s GoldPlus Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Quality Achievement Award for their commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines.