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New Initiative to Prevent, Treat and Beat Stroke Focuses on Health Equity, Heart-brain Connection

The American Heart Association’s Getting to the Heart of Stroke™ initiative, developed in conjunction with and supported by HCA Healthcare and the HCA Healthcare Foundation, focuses on preventing, treating and beating stroke by providing consumer and health care professional education nationwide, deepening collaboration between neurology and cardiology and equitably empowering communities about stroke risk to improve health outcomes

Knowledge and management of heart-related risk factors and conditions are critical in reducing the likelihood of and improving outcomes with stroke, especially across populations with health disparities. This powerful connection between heart and brain health is the target of a new initiative focused on clinical training, community and patient education, as well as diagnosis and treatment. Getting to the Heart of Stroke from the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, with support and collaboration from HCA Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:HCA), one of the nation’s leading health care providers, and the HCA Healthcare Foundation, will also include individualized health education efforts in 15 local markets across the United States.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Getting to the Heart of Stroke, developed in conjunction with HCA Healthcare and HCA Healthcare Foundation, features several efforts focused on preventing initial and recurrent strokes and improving overall stroke care by:

  • Educating and deepening the collaboration between health care professionals, especially in neurology and cardiology.
  • Empowering consumers to know and better manage their stroke risk, including through the use of a new stroke self-management tool, along with greater engagement with patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib) through the Association’s MyAFibExperience patient support network.
  • Improving the overall health of communities by addressing disparities through local health impact work.

“What’s good for the heart is good for the brain, but the reverse is also true: problems with the heart, including AFib, are well-documented as major stroke risk factors,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “To effectively combat stroke, we need to work together and elevate the heart-brain connection among health care professionals, while simultaneously addressing health disparities and resource gaps in our communities. We are not a one-size-fits-all nation and neither is the most successful approach to public health.”

Getting to the Heart of Stroke focuses on education and care across medical disciplines and specialties and addresses risk factor management for people at highest risk of stroke from AFib—which is known to increase stroke risk by up to 5 times1—or secondary stroke from other undiagnosed heart issues.

“Getting to the Heart of Stroke and our support of the American Heart Association further demonstrates our unwavering commitment to the individuals, families and communities we serve,” said Sam Hazen, chief executive officer, HCA Healthcare and chairman, HCA Healthcare Foundation. “Through this collaboration, we hope to have a significant impact in improving heart and brain health outcomes in order to beat stroke.”

As part of the new initiative, American Heart Association staff and volunteer experts with support from the HCA Healthcare Foundation and HCA Healthcare community colleagues will work in 15 select communities (listed below) to implement community education. The nationwide initiative will also focus on stroke risk factor awareness and professional education projected through the lens of equitable health for all.

Working closely with health care professional thought leaders, including those from HCA Healthcare, the Association will also develop accredited education programming that will be available to all health care professionals, and a specific learning collaborative with 10 HCA Healthcare facilities focused on continuously improving quality of care.

“We are proud to be collaborating with the American Heart Association and recognize that increased education and connectivity between our neurology and cardiology health care teams, patients and communities are integral to reducing the devastation of stroke, determining its underlying cardiac causes, such as AFib and structural heart disease and preventing another one,” said Steven Manoukian, MD, FAHA, senior vice president, HCA Healthcare. “Through this unique and multi-faceted initiative with the AHA, everyone will become better at Getting to the Heart of Stroke.”

Identifying the cause of a stroke is critical to being able to prevent a subsequent stroke. Certain patient subsets, including Black and Hispanic/Latino populations, face additional barriers to identifying and treating stroke risk factors as well as receiving thorough assessment and treatment following stroke2.

While some AFib risk factors, including uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, are more prevalent among Black people, they are less likely to be diagnosed with the condition, which may be related to race or ethnicity3. Black adults also have a higher prevalence of stroke and the highest death rate from stroke compared to any other racial group4. Getting to the Heart of Stroke will address these disparities through local health impact work in select communities. Focus areas may include women’s health and wellbeing, high blood pressure management, nutrition security or tobacco/vaping prevention.

The local HCA Healthcare hospital systems participating in Getting to the Heart of Stroke are:


  • Denver – HealthONE


  • Gainesville/Ocala - HCA Florida Healthcare
  • Jacksonville - HCA Florida Healthcare
  • Orlando - HCA Florida Healthcare
  • Palm Beach - HCA Florida Healthcare
  • St. Petersburg/Tampa - HCA Florida Healthcare


  • Kansas City - HCA Midwest Health


  • Las Vegas - Sunrise Health

North Carolina

  • Asheville - Mission Health


  • Nashville – Tristar Health


  • Austin – St. David’s Healthcare
  • Dallas/Fort Worth - Medical City Healthcare
  • Houston/Gulf Coast - HCA Houston Healthcare
  • San Antonio - Methodist Healthcare


  • Richmond - HCA Virginia Health System

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About HCA Healthcare

Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services comprising 182 hospitals and approximately 2,300 ambulatory sites of care, including surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers, and physician clinics, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. With its founding in 1968, HCA Healthcare created a new model for hospital care in the United States, using combined resources to strengthen hospitals, deliver patient-focused care and improve the practice of medicine. HCA Healthcare has conducted a number of clinical studies, including one that demonstrated that full-term delivery is healthier than early elective delivery of babies and another that identified a clinical protocol that can reduce bloodstream infections in ICU patients by 44%. HCA Healthcare is a learning health system that uses its more than 35 million annual patient encounters to advance science, improve patient care and save lives. Please click here to connect with HCA Healthcare on social media.

About HCA Healthcare Foundation

The mission of the HCA Healthcare Foundation is to promote health and well-being and strive to make a positive impact in all the communities HCA Healthcare serves. We accomplish this mission by providing leadership, service and financial support to effective non-profit organizations working individually and collectively.

1 Accessed August 30, 2022

2 D O Kleindorfer; et al 2021 Guideline for the Prevention of Stroke in Patients with Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack: A Guideline From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Stroke. 2021;52:e364–e467 DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000375

3 S R Heckbert; et al Difference by Race/Ethnicity in the Prevalence of Clinically Detected and Monitor-Detected Atrial Fibrillation Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology. 2020;13:e007698 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCEP.119.007698

4 Accessed August 30, 2022


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