New initiative to prevent, treat and beat stroke focuses on health equity, heart-brain connection

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 through $15 million in total funding from 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., 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.

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. 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.”

Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association

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 times—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. Through this collaboration, we hope to have a significant impact in improving heart and brain health outcomes in order to beat stroke.”

Sam Hazen, chief executive officer, HCA Healthcare and chairman, HCA Healthcare Foundation

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

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 ethnicity. Black adults also have a higher prevalence of stroke and the highest death rate from stroke compared to any other racial group[4]. 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 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.
Photo credit: HCA Healthcare and Abigail Bobo, 2021

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





North Carolina




About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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