Study finds black barbershops can help clients lower blood pressure
Study finds black barbershops can help clients lower blood pressure
Doctors take high blood pressure message to black barbershops
14 March, 2018, 04:55
Sixty-four percent of the men in the intervention group improved their blood pressure to levels in the normal range, compared to 12 percent of the control group. By contrast, men who interacted with their barber and a pharmacist saw their systolic blood pressure drop from 153 mm Hg at the start of the study to 126 mm Hg after six months, along with a drop in diastolic blood pressure of 18 mm Hg.
"When we provide convenient and rigorous medical care to African-American men by coming to them-in this case having pharmacists deliver that care in barbershops-blood pressure can be controlled and lives can be saved", said study lead author Ronald G. Victor, MD, associate director of the Smidt Heart Institute.
Each man was assigned either to a control group or to a program, where his barber would recommend that he meet with a trained pharmacist at the barbershop.
The group, which met for about a year in 2016, included a once-a-week visit from the pharmacist, who prescribed blood pressure medicine and followed up with the customers to make sure they were taking it.
Ciantel Blyler, a clinical pharmacist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and co-author of the study, told CNN that she was "surprised" by the results. While high blood pressure is a common problem among many American adults, African-American men are more likely than other groups to have high blood pressure that is not adequately controlled and tend to have less contact with the health care system.
As CNN reported, Dr. Joseph Ravenell, an internist at NYU Langone Health, and his colleagues previously researched how barbershops and other community-based strategies could help diagnose and treat hypertension and colorectal cancer. Black men reduced one of their biggest medical risks through a novel project that shows the power of familiar faces and trusted places to improve health.
One specific program successfully aided black men in controlling their blood pressure, an issue that disproportionately affects the demographic.
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The researchers also pointed out an additional 3.5 million black men in the USA are considered to have hypertension now that the ACC and American Heart Association have dropped the lower threshold to 130/80 mm Hg. Participants had a systolic blood pressure reading of more than 140 mmHg, placing them at high risk of heart attack and stroke.
Men who met only with their barber saw their systolic blood pressure drop from 155 mmHg at the start of the study to 145 mmHg after six months. But most hypertensive black men still have blood pressures above the old barrier of 140/90.
The researchers found almost 64% of the men who met with pharmacistsmonthly at their barbershop achieved a blood pressure level of less than 130/80 six months later, compared to the almost 12% of the men in the control group. At the six-month mark, 11.7% of the group brought their blood pressure into the healthy range, the study found. "The rapport I've been able to establish with this group of patients has been unlike any other I've had in my professional career".
"High blood pressure is a chronic illness that requires a lifetime commitment to medication and lifestyle modification", Victor said. "What's different about this study is it looks at ways to effectively bring it down with the help of your friends, family and support group".
"This is a very large effect for a hypertension trial of any kind", Victor said.
Researchers are now studying whether the benefits can be sustained for an additional six months.
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