University of Iowa Health Care is a national leader in the treatment and prevention of stroke. If you have a stroke, there’s no better place in Iowa to be treated.
As the state’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center, we have the highest level of certification and offer the highest level of care for stroke patients.
UI Health Care vascular neurologists advise hospitals across Iowa that don’t have stroke specialists on staff. They review scans and consult on clot-busting drug treatment, including whether patients need to be transported to UI Hospitals & Clinics for more advanced care. Our neurointerventional experts can remove clots from inside arteries and treat aneurysms and vascular malformations.
Our neurosurgeons use the latest surgical therapies to treat strokes as quickly and effectively as possible. Our team provides rehabilitation services and other support to help you recover. And we work with you to decrease your risk of having another stroke.
If you think someone is having a stroke, don’t try to drive them to the hospital yourself. Calling an ambulance begins the stroke-care process faster. Paramedics know what to do to assess a possible stroke and prepare for treatment.
Both types are extremely dangerous and require immediate treatment. If you have a stroke and aren’t treated within a few hours, you could die or be severely disabled.
When you arrive in the Emergency Department with a suspected stroke, everything happens very quickly. We have a team of experts available 24/7 to perform a procedure if you need one.
- You’ll be assessed right away by our team of emergency providers. They have special training in recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke.
- You’ll have a neurological exam and a blood draw.
- You’ll have a CT scan to see what kind of stroke you’ve had. A neurologist who specializes in strokes will review the results to determine the best treatment for you.
- If you arrive at the hospital soon after having an ischemic stroke, you may receive a clot-dissolving medication called alteplase (also known as tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator).
- If your scan shows a large clot, a neurointerventionalist may need to remove it with a minimally invasive procedure called a thrombectomy.
- If you’ve had a bleeding stroke, called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, you may have a minimally invasive procedure to seal the bleeding blood vessel. Alternatively, a neurosurgeon might perform open surgery to place a clip on the vessel.
- After treatment, you’ll be admitted to an intensive care unit. The length of your hospital stay will depend on how severe your stroke was and the effectiveness of your treatment. Our physical therapy team will work with you while you're in the hospital, if needed.
After your discharge from the hospital, you will see your neurologist and your primary care provider for monitoring as you recover.
Your recovery time will vary. Some people make a full recovery, while others may face long-term disability or other health complications.
After effects of a stroke can include the following:
- Weakness or paralysis on one or both sides of the body
- Pain, numbness or tingling in limbs
- Problems speaking or eating
- Trouble with thinking or memory
- Difficulty expressing or controlling emotion
- Incontinence (bladder or bowel control issues)
- Anxiety or depression
If you’ve lost physical or cognitive function, your post-stroke care will focus on recovering function.
Mild aftereffects may mean that outpatient rehabilitation would work best for you.
If you have more serious aftereffects, a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility like the University of Iowa Health Network Rehabilitation Hospital will provide more intensive services.
Depending on your needs, your neurologist may prescribe a rehab program that includes:
- Physical therapy for movement and coordination
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy for daily activities like bathing, dressing, eating, and drinking
- Mental health therapy if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression
Once you’ve had a stroke or TIA, you’re at high risk for having another.
You can change some risk factors on your own by:
- Treating conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting or moderating use of alcohol
You may be able to take blood thinners or have an interventional cardiology procedure to reduce your risk.
For example, a heart condition called atrial fibrillation can cause blood clots to form. A device called a Watchman, inserted in a minimally invasive procedure, will prevent clots from traveling to your brain.
Other minimally invasive procedures can fix clogs or narrowing of the carotid artery in your neck.
UI Health Care is the state’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center certified by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. This means that we offer specialized imaging, cerebrovascular neurosurgeons, and a neurological intensive care unit 24/7.
UI Health Care is an academic medical system that conducts advanced clinical research. We’re part of StrokeNet, a research network created by the National Institutes of Health to focus on stroke treatment, prevention, recovery, and rehabilitation.
As our patient, you’ll have access to the very latest therapies as well as clinical trials to improve stroke care.
A team approach to stroke care
A stroke is a complex event. Your care team might include the following experts, who work together on your treatment and rehabilitation plan.
- Vascular neurologist
- Interventional neurologist
- Interventional radiologists
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Recreational therapist
- Speech pathologist
- Social worker or case manager
- Psychologist or psychiatrist
Our Care Team
- Angela Lewis, RN
- Heena Olalde, RN
- Erin Rindels, RN
- Jeri Sieren, RN
Related Health Topics
The University of Iowa Comprehensive Stroke Center offers a support group for stroke survivors and their caregivers, and can connect you with other resources at the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center.
The University of Iowa Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) hosts a monthly support group for stroke survivors and their caregivers. No reason to register, just join us!
These meetings are being held in person with Zoom capabilities. Please reach out to the group for more information.
This group is for people with mild to moderate aphasia who continue to experience difficulties with reading comprehension.
A Cognitive Enhancement Program
Participants with cognitive impairment will be introduced to techniques and strategies to help with memory, attention, executive functioning, sleep difficulties, and more. Education will be provided regarding the cognitive effects of aging, dementia, stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), sleep problems, and more.
Patients and adult family members/caregivers are welcome to attend.
If you have aphasia—trouble speaking, reading, writing, or listening - you can join this group to learn how to improve communication