Community leaders, elected officials and health care professionals are teaming up with the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to launch their “Spirit of the Heart” campaign in New York on Friday, Dec. 7. Spirit of the Heart provides free health screenings and wellness information to help reduce the risk of developing heart diseases.

Spirit of the Heart comes as national health data and government research show widening health disparities between people of color and the general population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicates that there is a significant increase of teens, and young people, aged 15 to 44 hospitalized for stroke due partly to the increasing numbers of young people who have conditions such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. They report that more than one out of four deaths in New York are due to heart disease.

Area residents will have an opportunity to speak with experts and learn about resources available to improve their health.

The New York Spirit of the Heart weekend begins on Friday, Dec. 7, with free blood pressure screenings at Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in Harlem. It continues that evening with a public community leaders forum at the New York Academy of Medicine, which is aimed at mobilizing the community to close the gap in heart health disparities.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, the community is invited to participate in free health screenings at New Greater Bethel Ministries in Queens, providing participants with free heart disease risk assessments and follow-up counseling and consultations with health care professionals.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, members of ABC and ACC will make appearances at local churches promoting prevention and treatment of heart disease. Health screenings will continue in Far Rockaway, though timing is yet to be determined.