County and state officials joined partners at Northgate Gonzalez Markets on Friday, February 13 to celebrate Love Your Heart, a day-long event where free blood pressure screenings were offered throughout San Diego County and in the Baja California cities of Tijuana, Rosarito and Tecate. This was the first time that screenings were offered on both sides of the US/Mexico border.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and Mexico. In the United States, it accounts for one of every four deaths. Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and a family history of heart disease can put an individual at greater risk. In San Diego County, Latinos are disproportionately affected by heart disease. Raising awareness at a binational level is necessary, especially in San Diego’s South Region, a cross-border community.
Friday’s event brought together more than 200 screening sites in San Diego County and an additional 30 public health centers in Tijuana, Rosarito and Tecate. Northgate González Market on Coronado Avenue in Chula Vista hosted the lead site for the binational effort. Partners from both sides of border joined to raise awareness of heart health and their services.
Collaborative efforts made the binational event a success. San Ysidro Health Center measured blood pressure and BMI and provided health education and counseling. Individuals eligible for services in Mexico were referred to the Baja California’s Public Health Department doctors at the event. A local family gym provided lively music and zumba demonstrations. The University of California, San Diego Center for Community Health provided spa water samples and nutrition education. And Northgate González Market organized the store to ensure the healthy items were more prominent. They added a refrigerator in the front of the store with ready-to-go fruit, green salads and vegetables to add to soups.
Friday’s event helped raise awareness of heart health and the importance of "knowing your numbers" through regular blood pressure checks. Dignitaries in attendance included Senator Ben Hueso; Nick Macchione, Director, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency; Barbara Jiménez, Director, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency Central and South Regions; Iliana Salgado Moran, MD, Institute of Health Services of Baja California; Victor González and Teresa Blanco, Northgate González Markets; Fatima Muñoz, MD, U.S.- Mexico Border Health Commission, Baja California Outreach Office; and Drs. Maria Carriedo-Ceniceros and Greg Talavera, San Ysidro Health Center.
"We have to remember that we are in a cross border community,” said Senator Hueso when commenting on the importance of Friday’s binational event. “We have to work together in every level of governance to keep residents healthy."
“Binational collaboration is diplomacy through public health,” added Macchione.