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




TAMPA BAY, Fla., Oct. 17, 2022 – 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 Tampa Bay and 14 other 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:
• Empowering people 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 Tampa Bay residents 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 Amanda Palumbo, executive director of the American Heart Association for Tampa Bay “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 Tampa Bay and create a plan for helping more people in our community 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.

“We know more about heart disease and stroke than ever, yet we’re still losing far too many people to these largely preventable diseases,” said Ravi Chari, President of HCA Healthcare West Florida Division. “HCA Florida Healthcare is proud to work alongside the America Heart Association’s Getting to the Heart of Stroke initiative and be a champion to help us all get to the heart of stroke and support a healthier Tampa Bay.”

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 Tampa Bay along with 14 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 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 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[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.

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