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Spared a Stroke


Mike Widestrom, of Rockaway Beach, is a man on a mission. In August of 2013, his health care provider Rob Soans, PA, listened to Mike's carotid artery with a stethoscope during a routine exam and heard a tell-tale swishing sound that signals occlusion, or blockage of the artery. The next day, Soans sent Mike to Tillamook Regional Medical Center to have an ultrasound, which confirmed the diagnosis, and two days later Mike had vascular surgery on his carotid artery, which was approximately 90 percent blocked.

"I honestly believe that Rob Soans saved my life with a stethoscope," Mike says. "I was a prime candidate for a stroke, and I didn't have any idea. I was 59 years old, and I thought I just had high blood pressure. My left carotid was critically occluded (80 to 99 percent) and my right carotid was severely occluded (60 to 79 percent). I didn't have any symptoms. Rob was the first person who ever listened to my carotid arteries. It had never come up with any other doctor I've seen, and I would not have known to ask about it."

Mike made the discovery about his blocked carotid arteries when he went in to discuss his blood pressure with Soans at the Manzanita Primary can Specialty Care Clinic and to ask if Soans would accept him as a primary care patient. In their first appointment together, Soans listened to Mike's carotid and took immediate action, which potentially saved Mike from a debilitating stroke or an early death.

"I fell like I was at a crossroads with my health, and the results could have been catastrophic," says Mike. "It's shocking to think I was that close to losing my life or having a stroke. I think about what it would have meant to my kids...I'm just so grateful to Rob and to everyone at the clinic in Manzanita. They're so good to me, they feel almost like family."

Adventist Health surgeon Jeffrey Boskind, MD, operated on Mike's right carotid artery in January 2014. Mike wants to share his experience in hopes that simple screening, like listening to the carotid arteries with a stethoscope, will become commonplace and other people will be spared the dangers of stroke.

Take a free online screening for peripheral arterial disease (PAD). If the results of your screening indicate that you are at risk, we'll call you to schedule a free vascular test.

And ask your doctor or health care provider to listen to your carotid arteries with a stethoscope. The results could save your life.