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

Oct 18, 2022 at 06:05 pm by pj

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, includes a specific focus in five Florida communities with HCA Florida Healthcare to help address local barriers to health equity and improve health outcomes in addition to providing consumer and health care professional education nationwide

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 five Florida communities along with 10 other local communities 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:

  • Creating a learning collaborative with health care professionals at HCA Florida Healthcare focused on continuously improving quality of care.
  • Educating and deepening the collaboration between health care professionals at HCA Florida Healthcare, 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 Floridians by addressing disparities through local health impact work in the areas of women’s health and wellbeing, high blood pressure management, nutrition security or tobacco/vaping prevention.


“Getting to the Heart of Stroke uses a proven approach to public health which combines a national initiative with local health impact work,” said Jeremy Beauchamp, executive vice president of the American Heart Association, Southeast Region. “Over the next few months, the American Heart Association will work closely with our volunteers and leaders at HCA Florida Healthcare to take a real look at the health disparities right here in our communities and create a plan for helping more Floridians live the long, healthy lives they deserve.”

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[1]—or secondary stroke from other undiagnosed heart issues.

“Our partnership with the American Heart Association is critical for expanding our stroke prevention education efforts to ensure we reach Floridians from every walk of life,” said Chuck Hall, national group president, HCA Healthcare. “As always, our goal is to improve patient outcomes and this collaboration is certainly a major step in that direction.” 

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 Palm Beach, Gainesville/Ocala, Tampa/St. Pete, Orlando and Jacksonville along with 10 other 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 including HCA Florida Healthcare focused on continuously improving quality of care.

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[2].

While some AFib risk factors, including uncontrolled high blood pressurediabetes 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[3]. 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.

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


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

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 heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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.

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.

HCA Florida Healthcare, a part of HCA Healthcare, is a family of more than 570 affiliated sites of care, including hospitals, physician practices and freestanding emergency rooms. United as a statewide network in 2021, HCA Florida Healthcare includes approximately 11,000 experienced doctors and 77,000 colleagues working together to deliver advanced, collaborative care to more than 7.4 million patients each year. HCA Florida Healthcare is committed to improving more lives in more ways and giving back to the communities it serves. The network provided nearly $836.6 million in uncompensated care and invested significantly in innovative technologies and facilities across Florida, including the new $360 million state-of-the-art, multi-specialty HCA Florida University Hospital in Davie, Fla. A strong advocate for the next generation of healthcare professionals, HCA Florida Healthcare is also a major supporter of university-based healthcare programs and residencies and fellowships throughout the Sunshine State. For more information, please visit

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