Johns Hopkins University Doctor Shares Health Tips with Monte Vista School’s Parents

by Michele Earle
January 29, 2014 • 625 views

El Monte

Dr. Gerardo Lopez-Mena, from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland recently visited Monte Vista School to share with parents and families the importance of healthy lifestyles. Dr. Lopez-Mena, grew up in El Monte and is committed to giving back to the community by delivering medical education on important health topics through lectures, presentations, open discussions and interactive learning.
Dr. Lopez-Mena’s presentation focused on high blood pressure and diabetes and the importance of educating ourselves to ensure we stay healthy.
“Hypertension and diabetes in the Latino population has reached epidemic proportions,” Dr. Lopez-Mena said.  “Latinos are suffering a higher rate of heart attacks and strokes and also dying at greater rates. This is a big problem in this community and my goal is to return to El Monte after my residency at Johns Hopkins and do my best to support community members to be healthy both physically and mentally.”
Statistics indicate that one in three U.S. adults have high blood pressure. Known as the silent killer, because it is asymptomatic, high blood pressure can be hereditary and sometimes controlled by diet and exercise.
“It is important to get regular check-ups and monitor your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.  Blood pressure medications are good and safe, and if your doctor prescribes them you must take them.  It’s imperative that you follow the regimen you are given,” Dr. Lopez-Mena said. “We need to raise the awareness of the dangers of high blood pressure and diabetes because both lead to strokes and strokes kill twice as many women a year then breast cancer.”
During the month of January and his visit to El Monte, Dr. Lopez-Mena partnered with the local high schools and began the foundation for Promotores(as) or Community Health Workers, a concept he developed where community members promote health in their own communities.
“The reason I wanted to start at the high school level is that I want to influence the health of these young kids, expose them to the health profession, and give them an experience and something to put on their college applications. As community health workers they will provide leadership, peer education, support, and resources to support community empowerment.”
In addition to his work at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Lopez-Mena is also a member of the National Hispanic Medical Association whose vision is to improve the health of Hispanic populations, and he is the founder of Embajadores de Salud de la Cominidad, a program to engage the Spanish speaking community.
“We are grateful to Dr. Lopez-Mena for sharing such great information with us regarding our health,” said Robert Lopez, Monte Vista’s principal.  “We want all of our students and families to be healthy and live long, healthy lives.  His work in the high schools and throughout the community will be very beneficial,” added Lopez, who also happens to be the proud brother of Dr. Lopez-Mena.

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