Barbershop Blood Pressure Trimmed in Black Men, Study Shows

Doctors take high blood pressure message to black barbershops

Barbershop Pharmacists: A Good Rx for High Blood Pressure

Many men also face geographic, cultural or other barriers to accessing adequate health care. A blood pressure machine installed in the barbershop sent patients' readings directly to their doctors and to the pharmacist.

Blyler said she and the team understood the mistrust, which is why they chose barbershops, traditionally a common venue for community gatherings in black neighborhoods.

Eric Muhammad, who owns one of the barbershops used in the study, hit the nail on the head: "There's open communication in a barbershop".

"A lot of us use the emergency room as doctors", he said.

If employed on a broad scale, the approach could make major inroads in treating African-American men, a population that is more likely than other races to have high blood pressure ― a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke ― and less likely to be in a doctor's care, researchers said.

Black Americans also develop high blood pressure more often and at an earlier age than whites and Hispanics, according to the CDC. Dr. Victor has a very honest desire to bring down blood pressure in people in general, and in black men in particular.

"Barbershops are a uniquely popular meeting place for African-American men", and many have gone every other week to the same barber for many years, he said. "It nearly has a social club feel to it, a delightful, friendly environment", he stated. That study was of 17 Dallas barbershops.

In 2011, Victor published a study that showed that barbers could be effective in helping their patrons battle hypertension.

The study appears to fall in line with previous research exploring the role barbershops could have in preventing death and disease in the black community, said Dr. Joseph Ravenell, an internist at NYU Langone Health and associate professor of Population Health and Medicine at NYU School of Medicine in NY.

He was at the barbershop where he works in Inglewood, California.

The researchers write in the study that they believe the intervention succeeded because the pharmacists made getting blood pressure treatment very convenient.

At the start of the study, their top pressure number averaged 154. Six months later, 100 percent of those seen by pharmacists and 63 percent who received only encouragement to see a doctor were taking antihypertensive drugs.

Among the men who only had access to information, blood pressure dropped by an average of nine points, compared to a 27-point drop for those who had face-to-face time with pharmacists. Only 12 percent of the men who just got advice dropped to that level.

Marc Sims, a 43-year-old records clerk at a law firm, is one.

"Especially once we sat down and looked at the blood pressure control rates and we were comparing the intervention group and the control group, I was sort of taken aback", she said. "I think that's why this intervention was ultimately so successful". "It was time to get my health right".

Also, pharmacists aimed to lower blood pressure in the program participants to less than 130/80, whereas the primary care providers of those in the control group probably targeted a blood pressure of less than 140/90.

Treatment doesn't always mean medicines; healthier lifestyles can do a lot. More than 40% of non-Hispanic black men and women have high blood pressure. As part of a study, these health services were provided at his barbershop and others across Los Angeles County.

The findings were presented March 12 at the American College of Cardiology's annual scientific session and published simultaneously in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The cost of doing this isn't really known.

The doctor wants to expand his reach by studying 3,000 men in several cities across the country, as well as adding cholesterol screenings into the mix.

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