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Stroke treatment in Minnesota and western Wisconsin

At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we have comprehensive stroke centers that are recognized among the top in the nation for stroke care.

Our coordinated team of board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, neurocritical care and emergency doctors, rehabilitation doctors and other specialists work together to help you during and after a stroke. We’re by your side every step of your recovery, from the hospital, to transitional care, to rehabilitation and as you return home.

We aim to ensure you always get the best care possible with:

  • Emergency response teams equipped with the latest clot-busting technology
  • Advanced brain imaging to help extend the treatment window to 24 hours
  • Minimally invasive surgery for brain hemorrhage
  • Emergency treatments of brain aneurysms
  • Surgery and stenting of blocked carotid arteries
  • A dedicated neurocritical care unit
  • Rigorously trained stroke-certified rehabilitation specialists
  • Advanced clinical research

Regions Hospital is certified as a comprehensive stroke center by The Joint Commission, an esteemed independent health care certification organization. Regions is the first hospital in Minnesota to receive this designation.

Learn more about the stroke center at Regions Hospital.

Methodist Hospital is certified by the DNV-GL as a comprehensive stroke center. This certification reflects the highest level of competence for treatment of serious stroke events.

Learn more about the stroke center at Methodist Hospital

What is a stroke?

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability in the United States. Also called a “brain attack,” a stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen to the brain bursts, ruptures or becomes blocked by a clot. When this happens, brain cells don’t get the oxygen they need.

There are two types of stroke:

  • Ischemic strokes – These happen when a blood clot blocks blood flow in the brain. Ischemic strokes are usually treated by dissolving the clot with a medicine given intravenously (alteplase). In some cases, doctors remove the clot by sending a catheter to the site of the blocked blood vessel.
  • Hemorrhagic strokes – These happen when a blood vessel ruptures. Hemorrhagic strokes are treated by controlling the bleeding in the brain and reducing blood pressure that may be contributing to the bleeding.

The effects of a stroke depend on the area of the brain where the stroke occurred and the size of the area affected. Memory, muscle control and speech functions are controlled by different parts of the brain. A minor stroke might affect someone in small ways that are hardly noticeable, but a major stroke can cause paralysis and loss of speech.

Stroke Treatment

If you or someone you know has stroke warning signs, call 911 immediately. Getting immediate stroke treatment is important because time is brain cells. For every minute the treatment is delayed, two million brain cells are lost.

Recovering from a stroke

A stroke affects everyone differently, which means everyone’s stroke recovery process is different, too. We work with you and your family to create a personalized treatment plan that specifically addresses your unique needs. After a stroke, it’s common to need rehabilitation to help with:

  • Gait and motor function
  • Coordination and balance (ataxia)
  • Speech and understanding language (aphasia)
  • Swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Behavioral concerns and depression
  • Impaired cognitive ability
  • Sensory impairment
  • Visual problems
  • Weakness or paralysis

Stroke rehabilitation tailored to you

We offer comprehensive stroke rehabilitation for patients recovering in the hospital and patients recovering at home. Our stroke rehabilitation program is specially designed to achieve the best possible outcome for each stroke survivor. You and your family will be surrounded and supported by a team of doctors, nurses and therapists who work with you to help you heal and prepare for the future.

We work closely with patients and their families to tailor stroke rehabilitation to each patient’s needs and goals. Rehabilitation services may include:

  • Physical therapy – You’ll do guided motor-skill exercises, mobility training, range-of-motion therapy and other activities to help you regain motor skills and prepare for life after a stroke.
  • Occupational therapy – In addition to guided motor-skill exercises, we work with you on vision and cognition (thinking) skills.
  • Speech therapy – This type of therapy focuses on helping you regain your ability to speak, communicate or swallow after a stroke.
  • Cognitive and emotional activities – Our comprehensive approach to stroke rehabilitation focuses on treating the whole patient, mind, body and spirit. Our mental health specialists can help you understand and deal with the complex range of emotions experienced during this often-difficult time.
  • Support and education – Find information and encouragement in classes, support groups and peer visiting volunteer opportunities.
  • Technology and therapies – Doctors continue to conduct research and use evidence-based medicine to provide the best treatment possible. This innovation supports your recovery with help from technology-assisted physical activities and the latest in advanced technology and research, like brain stimulation and alternative medicine treatments.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Call 911 immediately if you think someone is having a stroke.

The American Stroke Association uses the acronym F.A.S.T. to help people recognize and respond to the signs of a stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for:

Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

The Minnesota Department of Health uses the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T. In addition to the F.A.S.T. signs and symptoms of a stroke, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends watching for the following: B for balance loss and E for eyesight changes.

The first appointment focuses on talking with our doctors about the stroke, the symptoms you’re experiencing after the stroke and your goals. We understand that the time after a stroke can feel overwhelming, and family members are often very important in this process. This is your time, so we’ll make sure to answer all your questions and discuss your preferences for treatment. For diagnostic purposes, we use advanced technology and imaging tests. We then work with you and your family to create a personalized treatment plan so you can begin taking steps toward recovery.

Knowing your risk factors for stroke is the first step in preventing a stroke. Many risk factors can be changed or controlled through life style changes, medicine or other therapy. Some of the common risk factors associated with increased risk of stroke are listed below. Know your health and watch your numbers for:

Blood Pressure High blood pressure (hypertension) is the single most important risk factor for stroke.

Diabetes – Having diabetes more than doubles your risk of stroke. Work with your clinician to manage diabetes.

High cholesterol – High cholesterol increases the risk of blocked arteries. If an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked, a stroke can result.

Physical inactivity and obesity – Being inactive, obese or both, can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. If you are overweight, losing five to 10 pounds will help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and improve your overall health.

Diet – Eat better and make good food choices. The Mediterranean diet is recommended as healthy meal plan.

Smoking – If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quit now.

Contact Regions Hospital if you have been diagnosed with a condition that may benefit from an elective surgery, such as carotid endarterectomies, carotid stents and aneurysm coiling and clipping. We can help.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.

Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started: