New stroke treatments can mean no residual effects

For more information, contact: Gloria O'Connell,

ST. Paul, Minn. 5/4/2016 — Adam Napiorkowski plays racquetball two or three times a week. But the last time he played – on his wife’s birthday February 22 – he felt dizzy and numb in the face. He couldn’t talk.

“Not being able to talk was really scary. That was the scariest part,” says Napiorkowski. One of his racquetball buddies feared his friend was having a stroke and called 911.

Napiorkowski was taken to United Hospital in St. Paul. Because of a new protocol, instead of waiting in the emergency room, Napiorkowski went immediately to a CT scanner, where his diagnosis was confirmed and treatment began.

Napiorkowski was given a blood clot busting drug and underwent a procedure in the interventional neuroradiology lab to remove the rest of the clot from his brain. He remembers the paramedics and the ambulance ride, having the CT scan and a doctor telling him he needed treatment to save his life. All the time, he was still unable to talk. 

“We discovered that he had a blockage of his basilar artery, which oftentimes can be fatal if not caught quickly and treated in a timely fashion,” said Ganesh Asaithambi, MD, neurologist at United Hospital. “Being alerted by paramedics of someone arriving to our emergency department with stroke symptoms allows us to assemble the proper resources upon patient arrival. This enabled us to quickly diagnose his condition, provide treatment efficiently, and fortunately yield a fantastic result.”

The next thing Napiorkowski remembers is waking up in an intensive care room and seeing his wife and daughter. 

Physicians showed Napiorkowski the before and after pictures of his brain. The blood clot that could have killed him was not only gone, there were no visible signs of damage.

Physicians call this an “aborted” stroke. Napiorkowski calls it a miracle. Other than the emotional trauma of nearly dying, he has had zero physical problems.  

“Of all of the things I could have been doing when this happened, I was with friends and in the right place at the right time,” he said.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services.