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Primary Stroke Center

Minneapolis VA Medical Center is a VA-recognized Primary Stroke Center.

Stroke health care

We offer stroke services such as time-sensitive clot busting medication to help reverse strokes and we partner with other hospitals to provide you with advanced endovascular treatments. We also offer extensive rehabilitation services. 

If you think that you or someone else is having a stroke, call 911 right away. Immediate treatment may save someone's life and increase the chances for successful rehabilitation and recovery.

Health care services

In an emergency

If you think that you or someone else is having a stroke, call 911 right away.

In our Emergency Department, when a "Stroke Code" is called, we rapidly assemble a team, including a neurologist, to quickly complete the initial evaluation so that time-sensitive treatment choices are given as quickly as possible. Evaluation includes blood labs, swallow test, imaging tests and heart tests.

Treatment options

Treatment options are based on the type of stroke you've had, and each type of stroke has several treatment choices. Stroke treatment is individualized to best meet your needs. It may include clot-dissolving treatment, mechanical thrombectomy, or, aspirin or blood pressure control depending on the situation.

Clot busting medication Tenecteplase and TeleStroke care

Minneapolis VA is leading the way in stroke care for Veterans. It is the first Veteran’s hospital to provide state-of-the-art stroke care on two major fronts: 1.) Stroke reversing using the clot busting medication Tenecteplase and 2.) Providing TeleStroke care via the VA National TeleStroke Program.

Learn more about TNK and TeleStroke at Minneapolis VA

Your stroke care team

  • Neurologist: Physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and management of stroke.
  • Advanced practice providers: Trained to prescribe medication to treat and manage your symptoms from stroke.
  • Rehabilitation physician: Physiatrist who specializes in restoring functional ability and quality of life after a stroke.
  • Primary care provider: Works on addressing stroke risk factors to prevent strokes.
  • Physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist: All work closely with the rehabilitation physician to help restore function after a stroke and lessen disability.

Other team members might include:

  • Sleep medicine physician to address sleep apnea
  • Mental health provider to address post-stroke depression
  • Vascular surgeon to address certain blockages in blood vessels to brain
  • Neurosurgeon to address surgical options or aneurysm screening
  • Dietician to address obesity and nutrition
  • Social worker to help support patient and their caregivers. 

Education: stroke

What is a stroke?

"A stroke occurs when either too much blood or too little blood disrupts blood flow to part of the brain. This deprives brain tissue of necessary oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes brain cells begin to die and the result is a loss of brain function. Brain damage from strokes can be minimized if they're treated promptly, but it's common to mistake signs of a stroke for other health problems, which delays treatment." From My HealtheVet - Stroke Awareness: Get the Facts

What are the types of stroke?

  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA): A TIA is an early warning that a stroke may be coming. A TIA is a temporary stroke. It causes no lasting damage. But the effects of a stroke, if it happens, can be very serious and lasting. If you think you are having symptoms of a TIA or stroke--even if they don't last--get medical help right away.
  • Ischemic stroke: Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery that supplies the brain is greatly narrowed or blocked. This can be caused by a buildup of plaque. It can also occur when small pieces of plaque or blood clots (called emboli) break off into the bloodstream.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage: A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of the brain bursts (hemorrhages). This spills blood into the surrounding tissue. This type of stroke often happens suddenly, with little warning. It is one of the most serious of all types of strokes.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. This lets blood spill into nearby brain tissue, which damages the cells. Other brain cells die because their normal blood supply cuts off.

From My HealtheVet - Stroke Awareness: Get the Facts

Signs of a stroke

Call 9-1-1 immediately if any of these signs of stroke appear: Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg; Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; Trouble seeing in one or both eyes; Trouble walking, dizziness, or problems with balance; severe headache with no known cause.

Strokes are an emergency, watch this video to learn the signs of a stroke and B.E. F.A.S.T.

  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden difficulty walking or dizziness, loss of balance or problems with coordination
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes

Prevention and screening

Keep your stroke risks low with regular checkups and treatment for these conditions if you have them:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, atrial fibrillation, heart disease
  • Sickle cell disease

Up to 80 percent of second clot-related strokes may be preventable. 

Stroke resources

B.E. F.A.S.T. - Strokes are an emergency

Learn the signs of a stroke (Video)

Recognize the Signs and Symptoms of Stroke -

When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts. (Video)

Stroke Symptoms -

Learn and share the F.A.S.T. warning signs of a stroke.

Stroke and Heart Disease - Veterans Health Library