NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center

Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute

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"HeartSmarts", the faith-based health promotion program at The Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute was created by Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey, under the direction of Holly Andersen, M.D. and Lisa Mainieri, MPH, MSW. HeartSmarts aims to empower and educate black and Hispanic communities about cardiovascular health and reduce their incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Heart Smarts graduation pose for group photo

About the Program

Through partnerships with churches and wellness ministries we aim to create a coalition of lay health ambassadors who utilize a faith-based curriculum to enable members of faith-based organizations and their surrounding communities to increase their knowledge of cardiovascular health and heart disease prevention.

Heartsmarts Program Summary


In HeartSmarts the lay health ambassadors take part in a 12-week HeartSmarts training conducted by Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey using a faith-based curriculum that incorporates biblical scripture. Topics include:

  • The major risk factors for heart disease
  • The importance of healthy lifestyle changes
  • Warning signs of a heart attack and appropriate action steps
  • High Blood Pressure, Stress Management, Diabetes, Nutrition, and Physical Activity

After the lay health ambassadors complete the training, they teach the HeartSmarts class in their churches. Ambassadors assess participant blood pressure, weight, waist circumference, and knowledge of cardiovascular health before and after the 12-week session.

Sample Sessions:

  1. "Your Body is a Temple" - Know Your Risk for Heart Disease
  2. "Your Body is an Instrument of Righteousness" - Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs
  3. "Guard Your Heart" - Get Energized and Say YES to Physical Activity

Program Results

HeartSmarts participants and ambassadors have helped change the culture of many of the churches by creating more of a focus on health.

The trained ambassadors have become community resources for cardiovascular health education and can be found educating community members at various health events.

Participants and ambassadors have improved their knowledge of cardiovascular health, lost weight, decreased blood pressure, reduced waist circumference, increased physical activity, engaged in positive health behavior change, improved nutrition, increased hours of quality sleep, and learned to manage stress in a healthy way.

The HeartSmarts program has received positive feedback from participating churches, other community based programs, and the New York City Department of Health because of its innovative approach to health education. HeartSmarts is a truly faith-based program, not just a faith-placed one.

Participant Feedback

– HeartSmarts is an eye-opener and has become a vital part of my Christian experience.

– When you cite something or make it relevant through scripture, like HeartSmarts has done, it becomes more beneficial, and we become more apt to want to learn.

– After completing the HeartSmarts Program I felt more empowered to take charge of my health. My doctor was surprised by my new knowledge and the fact that I understood the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol among other things.

In the News

  • Uptown Talk: New York Presbyterian HeartSmarts Classes Preach Benefits of Heart-healthy Lifestyle - NY Daily News
  • In Church, Using the Bible as a Guide for Healthy Living - The New York Times
  • For Underserved Communities, Faith-Based Health Lessons - DNAinfo

Contact Us

For more information about the HeartSmarts program, contact:

Dr. Naa-Solo Tettey
Telephone: (212) 746-0484