Colorado’s first comprehensive stroke center

The Joint Commission, American Heart Associatin, American Stroke Associaation - Comprehensive Stroke Center Colorado

Swedish Medical Center is the first comprehensive stroke center in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region, as named by the Joint Commission, a prestigious national medical accreditation organization. This certification recognizes the advanced technology, staff and training that comprehensive stroke centers must have to provide complex stroke care.

Swedish treats more strokes with more advanced techniques and technology than any other hospital in the Rocky Mountain Hospital. BE FAST. Think Swedish.

Swedish has also been named one of America’s Best Stroke Centers by the Women’s Choice Award advisory board. This award is given to hospitals that carry the certification of Advanced Primary Stroke Center or Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission while achieving above average patient recommendation scores.

What is a stroke?

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.

Types of stroke

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery supplying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. The clot can also form in another part of the body (often the heart) and become stuck in one of the narrow brain arteries.

Hemorrhagic stroke

This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. This damage to the blood vessel can occur as a result of uncontrolled high blood pressure, weakened blood vessel walls or an abnormal tangle of thin-walled blood vessels.

BE FAST. Think Swedish.

Many Americans will suffer a stroke, yet most people in the U.S. cannot identify the warning signs of a stroke. It's important to remember BE FAST:

B - Balance: Ask the person if they have balance problems.

E- Eyes: Ask the person if they have loss of vision or blurriness in one or both eyes.

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

A - Arm: Can the person raise both arms?

S - Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?

T - Time: Time to call 9-1-1 immediately.

If you think you or a loved one is experiencing a stroke,
call 9-1-1.

Advanced stroke techniques and technology

Artificial intelligence for large vessel occlusions

Swedish Medical Center was the first in the Rocky Mountain region to add artificial intelligence to automatically detect suspected large vessel occlusions (LVOs), providing earlier identification of stroke and helping improve time to therapeutic intervention. CT imagery is reviewed by an advanced deep learning algorithm which automatically analyzes them and when a suspected LVO is found, an alert is sent to the Swedish stroke specialists within less than 6 minutes.*

A.I. detection reduced time to notification for suspected LVO strokes by an average of 52 minutes*

Reperfusion catheter

Swedish Medical Center is 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 due to this rapid treatment. At Swedish, we are capable of using this system with or without the clot-busting drug, tPA.

Neuro-evacuation devices

Swedish Medical Center is 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 hemorrhage. 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 for their condition.

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

Coordinated interdisciplinary stroke care

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 outcome. Care coordination begins before the patient has even reached our emergency department. We work closely with local emergency medical services (EMS) crews to ensure a stroke alert is made from the field so our team is assembled and ready as soon as the patient reaches our ambulance bay. In addition to our expert neurologists, specialized neurosurgeons and EMS partners, members of our experienced and specially trained team includes:

Stroke survivor stories

patient testimonial by Bill O

Bill O'Gorman

It's remarkable, really, that Bill O'Gorman can actually tell you how grateful he is to be al...

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patient testimonial by Frances Mackey

Frances Mackey

"I returned to work only 8 weeks after my stroke." Frances Mackey suffered a stroke in Spearfish, S...

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patient testimonial by Dennis Haynes

Dennis Haynes

When Dennis felt queasy and light-headed, his wife, Joyce, knew something was wrong. She called 9-1-...

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See More Stroke survivor stories

Why choose a Comprehensive Stroke Center?

When it comes to receiving stroke care, time is vitally important. It's also important to get the right type of care to receive the best chance of making a full recovery and returning to an active lifestyle. Learn more with the latest news from our program:

The Swedish system of stroke care

In partnership with HealthONE and Blue Sky Neurology, our Swedish system of stroke care extends beyond our three metro Denver emergency room locations and into a multistate region. Using telemedicine technology, neurologists can provide lifesaving exams and treatments for stroke patients across Colorado and parts of the surrounding states.

Telemedicine enables hospitals to treat stroke patients with immediate consultation from a stroke neurologist. From a laptop computer connection, the neurologists can examine patients closely, even focusing in to look at subtle eye movements that can be important in delivering care. Stroke specialists can read vital signs on bedside computers and talk in real time with the patient, family members and emergency room staff.

HealthONE also offers an air and ground transport team, AirLife. AirLife Denver has the first recognized dedicated stroke transport team in the United States. 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. Read Frances’ story of survival thanks to the Swedish system of stroke care.

Stroke support group

Swedish encourages stroke survivors and caregivers to participate in support group meetings. The Colorado Brain Aneurysm Support Group at Littleton Adventist Hospital and the Rocky Mountain Brain Aneurysm Support Group at Swedish Medical Center alternate monthly meetings to provide information and education on a variety of topics relating to the stroke recovery process for both survivors and caregivers. Both conference rooms are just off the main lobby of each hospital. Meetings are held in the evenings on Mondays or Wednesdays. To find out more information or to access a schedule, contact Tammy Curmano at (970) 471-2178 or via email.


* 1 FDA De Novo DEN170073, Core Lab Study, 2 Center, n=44, Sensitivity 87.8%, Specificity 89.6%. 2017. Go back to Artificial intelligence for large vessel occlusions to continue reading.