WEST PALM BEACH — 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 Palm Beach County along with 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:
• 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 Palm Beach County 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 Kayla Fox, executive director of the American Heart Association in Palm Beach County. “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 Palm Beach County 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 one — or secondary stroke from other undiagnosed heart issues.
“To tackle health inequities in South Florida, we need to address cardiovascular health at the community level and at the health care system level,” said Charles Gressle, HCA East Florida Division President. “Getting to the Heart of Stroke is designed to do that and we’re very proud to support our community alongside the American Heart Association.”
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 County along with 14 other select communities 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 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 ethnicity. Black adults also have a higher prevalence of stroke and the highest death rate from stroke compared to any other racial group. Getting to the Heart of Stroke will address these disparities.