Stroke treatments and support in Denver
Swedish Medical Center is a national leader in the area of neurosciences. Featuring clinical depth and a team of experts, combined with unparalleled outcomes, Swedish has become the gold standard in stroke, neurology and neurosurgical care.
The Swedish Neuro Network leverages the quality and capabilities of Swedish with stroke/neuro care at five other HealthONE acute care hospitals for the benefit of patients throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Services are available at:
The Swedish Neuro Network at HealthONE is a network of care that connects the region’s leading stroke experts and primary stroke centers with facilities across the state, and the Rocky Mountain region. This enables us to provide care with a strong focus on starting treatment as fast as possible. Additionally, our neurology departments offer acute stroke care and rehabilitation, helping more stroke patients than any other health system in Colorado. From initial diagnostics and intervention to ongoing care, we ensure stroke victims and survivors have expertise close by.
If you think someone is having a stroke, do not wait—call 911.
Advanced, lifesaving stroke care
The longer a stroke goes untreated, the more brain cells the victim loses and the less likely it is that the victim will make a full recovery. That is why our stroke care programs includes:
- Emergency and neurosciences teams equipped to treat strokes 24/7
- More than 20 ongoing trials, to ensure we are using state-of-the-art techniques
- Proven records of administering clot-busting drugs quicker than any other hospitals in the region
- The region’s most comprehensive stroke centers staffed by world-class neurologists and other team members specially trained in stroke care
- The shortest "door-to-needle" (arrival to treatment) times in the region
For more information about the Swedish Neuro Network at HealthONE stroke treatment programs, please call (303) 575-0055.
The Region’s Stroke Leaders
The hospitals of the Swedish Neuro Network offer some of the most advanced stroke treatment in the Rocky Mountain region and the nation, as recognized by the Joint Commission:
- Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center - Swedish Medical Center (First in Colorado)
- Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center - Sky Ridge Medical Center (First in Colorado)
- Primary Stroke Center - Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center, Rose Medical Center
We also offer AirLife Denver, which provides critical care air and ground transportation across a 10-state region. With 24/7 intra-arterial treatment and advanced imaging capabilities available across all our hospitals, an airlift or ambulance ride can ensure you get the fast and effective care you need.
Stroke Alert Program
The HealthONE Stroke Alert Program expedites care for stroke patients. It involves EMS providers notifying the hospital's team members at the first warning of a patient’s pending arrival. Once the hospital is informed a suspected stroke patient is on the way, an alert notification goes out to the designated stroke team. This includes the neurologist, the computed tomography (CT) scan technicians and lab personnel. Together, they assure the scanning room is ready and they can act quickly to diagnose and treat the patient when they arrive.
Our telemedicine program is currently Colorado’s most expansive telemedicine network. Through it, we offer the region's only network of 24/7 board-certified neurologists, so when you arrive at our facility, physicians can quickly reach a neurologist at one of our stroke centers. They can interact with you to make a rapid diagnosis, which can be the difference between life and death.
What happens during a stroke
A stroke (cerebrovascular accident) occurs when blood flow to the brain stops, causing approximately 30,000 brain cells to die each second. That is why you may often hear “time is brain” when referring to the need for quick stroke treatment.
Most cases of stroke are designated as ischemic, meaning the normal flow of blood to the brain has been interrupted by a blockage in the vessel walls. Far less common are hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when a weak blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue.
Symptoms of a stroke
It is crucial for medical personnel to intervene as quickly as possible to stop a stroke, limit damage from a stroke and increase your chances for recovery. Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke can help make this possible. Some symptoms you may notice include:
- Facial—muscle weakness or numbness
- Limbs—numbness or weakness
- Muscular—difficulty walking, paralysis with weak muscles, problems with coordination, stiff muscles, overactive reflexes or paralysis of one side of the body
- Sensory—pins and needles or reduced sensation of touch
- Speech—difficulty speaking, slurred speech or speech loss
- Visual—blurred vision, double vision, sudden visual loss or temporary loss of vision in one eye
- Whole body—balance issues, fatigue or lightheadedness
Other common symptoms include difficulty swallowing, headache, inability to understand others, mental confusion, numbness or rapid involuntary eye movement.
Know the signs of stroke
Knowing the warning signs of a stroke can help save lives. B.E. F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember how to identify and respond if you suspect someone is having a stroke:
- B – Balance: Are you experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
- E – Eyes: Are you having a sudden change in vision or trouble seeing?
- F – Face: Is one side of the face drooping?
- A – Arms: Can you raise both arms? Does one drift downward?
- S – Speech: Are words slurred? Can your repeat back a simple sentence?
- T – Time: Time is crucial. If you notice these symptoms, call 911.
Stroke risk factors
Certain risk factors for stroke cannot be changed. For example, you are at higher risk of experiencing a stroke if you are:
- 65 years old or older
- African American/Black
- Suffering from sickle cell disease
However, understanding the factors that cause strokes and taking steps to control them may help prevent a stroke. These factors include:
- Artery disease
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
- Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
- Excessive use of alcohol or substance abuse (usually cocaine and amphetamines)
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High red blood cell count
- Physical inactivity or obesity
We proudly partner with organizations around the city to provide resources and education about stroke prevention and care. You can find our teams doing this at a variety of community events in the Denver area.
Some ways we encourage stroke prevention is to remind you to:
- Be consistent with annual health physicals
- Eat a low fat, low cholesterol diet
- Have cholesterol checked yearly
- If diabetic, check blood sugar before each meal and at bedtime to monitor and maintain safe blood glucose levels
- If hypertensive (suffering from high blood pressure), monitor it daily
- Increase your exercise
- Know your family history (hereditary traits)
- Stop smoking
We provide outstanding care for patients during and after a stroke. Our diagnostic tests help us determine the exact cause of the stroke. If we know what kind of stroke a patient has experienced, we can help prevent another stroke. Stroke treatments may include medications or surgical interventions.
Endovascular thrombectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure that removes the stroke-causing clot and can help many stroke victims recover with little or no long-term damage. Swedish Medical Center was a national pioneer in using this treatment. In 2019, Sky Ridge Medical Center was the first hospital in Colorado to receive Joint Commission certification as a Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center, and is the only hospital in the south metro Denver area to offer this care.
Currently this advanced treatment is available at these Swedish Neuro Network hospitals:
- The Medical Center of Aurora
- Sky Ridge Medical Center
- Swedish Medical Center
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)
If it has been less than four-and-a-half hours since the stroke began, patients may be eligible for a clot-busting drug: tPA. This drug will dissolve the existing clot and restore blood flow to the affected area of the brain. To receive tPA, doctors must deem that the benefits outweigh the risks, and the patient must meet certain medical criteria.
Stroke and neurological rehabilitation
HealthONE’s brain injury and stroke rehabilitation programs offer a full range of inpatient and outpatient treatment options to help you regain your independence. Both of these programs are offered via our Joint Commission-certified Comprehensive Stroke Centers. Here, our therapists specialize in physical, psychological, occupational, speech and cognitive rehabilitation. This means our highly trained physicians, nurses and therapists are able to help stroke survivors become as independent as possible and attain the best possible quality of life.
Stroke support groups
Quality of life and long-term disability are two of the most important issues stroke survivors face. The physical, emotional, financial and mental tolls can be quite significant, for both patients and their caregivers. How these issues are dealt with can play an important role in the overall healing process.
That is why our stroke centers offer support groups for patients and caregivers alike. You can find these and information about other local support groups through the American Stroke Association support group registry.