Comprehensive stroke center in South Denver

As named by The Joint Commission, Swedish Medical Center is the first Comprehensive Stroke Center in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. This certification recognizes our hospital as having the advanced technology, staff and training that complex stroke care requires. Additionally, because we treat more strokes than any other hospital in the region, our team is extremely efficient and well-practiced at working together to achieve the very best patient outcomes.

If you think someone is experiencing a stroke, immediately call 911.


We carry the certification of Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for achieving excellent patient outcomes and care.

Our system of stroke care

In partnership with HealthONE's hospitals and physician practices, our system of stroke care extends into a multistate region. It goes well beyond our three South Metro Denver emergency room (ER) locations. This is, in part, because of our innovative use of telemedicine technology. This allows our neurologists to provide lifesaving exams and treatments for stroke patients across Colorado and parts of the surrounding states.

Air transport

HealthONE also offers AirLife, an air and ground transport team. AirLife Denver has the first recognized dedicated stroke transport team in the U.S. The team has received specialized education for the transportation of stroke patients, offering advanced care as they are transferring patients to or between hospitals. Because of this, patients throughout an eight-state region may improve their chances of limiting the effects of stroke.

Strokes (cerebrovascular accidents)

A stroke, or "brain attack," occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. The cells in the affected area of the brain do not get oxygen and begin to die off. Abilities controlled by the brain, such as muscle control or memory, can be lost. As 30,000 brain cells die each second during a stroke, medical personnel needs to intervene as quickly as possible to stop the stroke and limit any damage.

The two primary types of strokes are:

  • Hemorrhagic stroke—when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures
  • Ischemic stroke—an artery supplying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot

Recognizing stroke symptoms

It is important to remember to think and act "FAST" so you know when to seek treatment for stroke symptoms:

F - Face: Ask the person to smile—does one side of the face droop?

A - Arms: Can the person raise both arms?

S - Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?

T - Time: Time is critical, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Advanced stroke treatments and technology

Our care coordination for stroke patients begins before the patient has even reached our ER. We work closely with local emergency medical services (EMS) crews to ensure they notify us from the field when a suspected stroke occurs. This collaboration means our team is assembled and ready as soon as the patient reaches our ambulance bay. It enables us to provide faster treatments, which may include:

Artificial intelligence for large vessel occlusions

Swedish Medical Center is the first in the Rocky Mountain region to add artificial intelligence to automatically detect suspected large vessel occlusions (LVOs). (LVOs are the cause of many ischemic strokes.) With this technology, computed tomography (CT) imagery is reviewed by an advanced, deep-learning algorithm. It automatically analyzes them and, when a suspected LVO is found, an alert is sent to our stroke specialists within less than six minutes. This allows us to identify strokes earlier and helps improve time-to-treatment.

Cerebral angiogram

A cerebral angiogram is the study of the blood vessels in the head and neck. A radiologist can perform the following procedures during a cerebral angiogram:

  • Treatment of arteriovenous malformations and vascular malformations
  • Treatment of brain aneurysms
  • Treatment of narrowed blood vessels by ballooning or stenting
  • Treatment of stroke through the removal of a blood clot in the brain

Neuro-evacuation devices

We are the first hospital in the Denver metro region to offer minimally invasive surgery to remove a blood clot from the brain for patients who suffer from intracerebral hemorrhages. The neuro-evacuation device uses controlled aspiration to remove blood and tissue from the cerebrum and ventricular systems of the brain during minimally invasive neurosurgery. This procedure allows patients suffering from a hemorrhagic stroke, who typically face limited treatment options, another viable treatment plan.

Reperfusion catheter

We are the first advanced stroke care center in Colorado to use reperfusion catheters to treat ischemic stroke patients faster and more efficiently. This system allows physicians to easily open the affected blood vessels and remove the clot. Many patients are spared the lasting effects of a stroke thanks to this rapid treatment.

Stroke support group

We encourage stroke survivors and caregivers to participate in support group meetings. There are many in the area, including ones that we offer: The Colorado Brain Aneurysm Support Group at Littleton Adventist Hospital and the Rocky Mountain Brain Aneurysm Support Group at Swedish Medical Center. These locations alternate holding monthly meetings. Together, we provide information and education on a variety of topics relating to the stroke recovery process for both survivors and caregivers.

Meeting rooms are just off the main lobby of each hospital.

Meetings are held monthly on Monday or Wednesday evenings.

To find out more information about our stroke support groups, contact us at (970) 471-2178.

Swedish Medical Center stroke outcomes

As the first Comprehensive Stroke Center in Colorado, Swedish has consistently provided high-quality, advanced stroke care for patients throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

Stroke data report
January-December 2020
MeasureSwedish Medical CenterNational Benchmark
Patients who arrive to Swedish within 12 hours of last being normal are seen rapidly by a neurologist within minutes of a stroke alert call Median arrival time of neurologist: 0 minutes Target Stroke goal: 15 minutes or less
Percentage of patients treated with IV tPA at Swedish (or via telemedicine and transferred to Swedish for higher level of care) 29% 3-8% (estimated national average)
Percentage of patients treated with IV tPA at Swedish with a symptomatic hemorrhage in the brain following administration 2% 6% (NINDS trial)
Rapid treatment with IV tPA has been demonstrated to improve recovery after a stroke Median door to IV tPA: 22 minutes*
*All cases included
Joint Commission goal: Door to treatment time in 60 minutes or less
Our acute stroke surgical intervention team is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for eligible patients. Rapid treatment has been shown to improve recovery 51 minutes to recanalization National benchmark: 120 minutes or less
Patients with severe narrowing of the arteries in the neck may be eligible for carotid artery stenting (CAS) to reduce the risk of future stroke CAS complication rate: 4.0%" 7.20%

Stroke at HealthONE

A stroke is a medical emergency where blood flow to the brain is either reduced or stopped, depriving brain tissue of essential oxygen and nutrients. A stroke may cause loss in brain function and affect movement and speech.

Learn about Stroke

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