Doctors take high blood pressure message to black barbershops

Doctors take high blood pressure message to black barbershops

The mean reduction was 21.6 mm Hg greater with the intervention.

Barbers encouraged some men to meet once a month with specially trained pharmacists in the barbershop. Almost 64 percent of the men who met with a pharmacist lowered their blood pressure to a healthy level below the mark where hypertension begins. Only half of Americans with high pressure have it under control; many don't even know they have the condition.

The study included 319 black men with high blood pressure who frequented 52 barbershops in the Los Angeles area.

After six months, 64 percent of the men who saw a pharmacist achieved healthy blood pressure, compared with just under 12 percent of those who did not see a pharmacist, the investigators found.

Dr. Ronald Victor, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center who led the study, said barbershops are the flawless place to reach Black men for health screenings, according to the Associated Press.

Their blood pressure dropped from 153 mmHg at the start of the study to 126 mmHg after six months.

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 men can access health care in a familiar setting: their favorite barbershop. Diastolic blood pressured dropped by 4 mm Hg in this group.

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"In conclusion, medication management that was delivered in barbershops by specialty-trained pharmacists, as compared with standard management afforded by primary care practices, resulted in much larger blood-pressure reductions in black male patrons of those shops who had hypertension", said lead author Ronald G. Victor, MD, associate director of the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels throughout the body, according to the American Heart Association.

One pharmacist who took part in the study explained the advantages of offering blood pressure treatment at a barbershop.

"This is a very large effect for a hypertension trial of any kind", Victor said. These differential targets and measurement locations may have factored into the results, and "normotensive office readings that mask high out-of-office blood pressure are common in black patients", they wrote. At six months, 100 percent of those seeing a pharmacist and 63 percent of those seeing only a barber were taking blood pressure medications.

"High blood pressure is a chronic illness that requires a lifetime commitment to medication and lifestyle modification", Victor said. "With this program, we have been able to overcome that barrier".

Researchers are now studying whether the benefits can be sustained for an additional six months.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, among other funding sources. The findings were reported in the i New England Journal of Medicine /i and announced Monday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

The ACC's Annual Scientific Session, which is taking place March 10-12 in Orlando, brings together cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists from around the world to share the newest discoveries in treatment and prevention.

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