KANSAS CITY, 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 Kansas City 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 Kansas City 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 Laura Lopez, executive director of the American Heart Association in Kansas City. “Over the next few months, the American Heart Association will work closely with our volunteers and leaders at HCA Midwest Health to take a real look at the health disparities right here in Kansas City 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.

“Getting to the Heart of Stroke in Kansas City is about meeting people where they are with the resources they need to manage their heart health and prevent stroke,” said HCA Midwest Health President Keith Zimmerman. “HCA Midwest Health is extremely proud to be supporting the American Heart Association’s Getting to the Heart of Stroke initiative to champion stroke prevention and bring this robust initiative to life in our community.”

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 Kansas City 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.

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 and Missouri

  • 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 heart.org, 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.

About HCA Midwest Health 
As the Kansas City area’s leading healthcare provider, HCA Midwest Health consists of seven hospitals and dozens of outpatient centers, clinics, physician practices, surgery centers and an array of other facilities and services to meet area residents’ healthcare needs. HCA Midwest Health is one of the area’s largest private-sector employers, with more than 10,000 employees, and the largest provider of charity and uncompensated care. Each year, we provide nearly $1 million to local charities. Annually, HCA Midwest Health invests capital to enhance and expand patient services and last year paid more than $115 million in taxes, which may go to the improvement of schools, roads, and infrastructure in the communities we serve. HCA Midwest Health facilities include Belton Regional Medical Center, Centerpoint Medical Center, Lafayette Regional Health Center, Lee's Summit Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center, Research Medical Center and Research Psychiatric Center. Midwest Physicians, which is part of HCA Midwest Health, is a network of experienced, multi-specialty physicians located throughout the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Currently Midwest Physicians represents 600+ providers. It includes 80+ specialties, providing care in 150+ locations to serve our community. The physicians, licensed professionals and support staff who comprise the HCA Midwest Health team are dedicated to improving healthcare in the Greater Kansas City and outlying areas to create healthier communities that lead to healthier tomorrows. For more information, visit www.hcamidwest.com.


For Media Inquiries:
American Heart Association

DeEtta Lee, Communications Director
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
heart.org and stroke.org

HCA Healthcare
Christine Hamele, AVP, Public Relations and Community Affairs
(913) 208–5566, christine.hamele@hcamidwest.com


[1] www.heart.org/-/media/Files/Health-Topics/Atrial-Fibrillation/FAQ-About-AFib.pdf 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] www.stroke.org/-/media/Stroke-Files/Lets-Talk-About-Stroke/Prevention/Lets-Talk-About-Black-Americans-and-Stroke-Sheet.pdf Accessed August 30, 2022