Faith-Based Health Program Continues To Expand At NewYork-Presbyterian

HeartSmarts program uses the Bible to reduce heart disease in underserved communities

Jun 19, 2014


The Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center graduated its third and largest class of participants in HeartSmarts, a unique faith-based education and outreach program that empowers people to become teachers in their communities.

Forty-two representatives from churches and community organizations across New York City and Long Island completed training to be “ambassadors of health,” community leaders trained to teach a 10-week course on how to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.

This year’s class includes representatives from the NAACP, in addition to representatives from the Bowery Mission, a provider of services to the homeless. Both organizations will be incorporating HeartSmarts into their respective wellness curricula.

One graduate, the Rev. Leon Williams of the Bowery Mission said, “The scripture states that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, he will give us the desires of our hearts. The information that I have received over the past 10 weeks in the HeartSmarts program has been life changing.”

Led and developed by Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey, coordinator of cardiovascular health education and community outreach, in conjunction with Dr. Holly Andersen, director of education and outreach, both of the Perelman Heart Institute of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, HeartSmarts aims to reduce cardiovascular disease in the New York metropolitan area’s underserved communities through the use of its distinctly faith-based curriculum.

“The addition of the biblical scripture to the cardiovascular health education curriculum is what makes this program truly faith-based,” says Dr. Tettey. “Many participants say HeartSmarts is like backing up science with scripture.”

Each lesson is anchored by a biblical passage that connects to topics such as knowing the major risk factors for heart disease, how to modify these risk factors through lifestyle changes, and recognizing the warning signs of a heart attack and how to take appropriate action.

All of the ambassadors of health will begin teaching their 10-week HeartSmarts course in their churches and community centers.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research has demonstrated that faith-based settings can be an effective vehicle for the promotion of healthy lifestyles. These settings have large populations and have trusted access to those at greatest risk who may not seek traditional sources of health care.

HeartSmarts was created in 2012 by Dr. Tettey under the direction of Dr. Andersen. In the first year of the program, more than 50 percent of the participants decreased their blood pressure and lost weight.

“I believe this is the best faith-based cardiovascular program in the country and I am extremely proud of the work that Dr. Tettey and our Perelman Ambassadors are doing for our community,” says Dr. Andersen.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease; the first indication of bone marrow’s critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester Division, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar.

Media Contact:

Public Affairs 212-821-0560