Doctors take high blood pressure message to black barbershops

  • Doctors take high blood pressure message to black barbershops

Doctors take high blood pressure message to black barbershops

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.

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.

"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", Ronald G. Victor, the study's lead author, told ScienceDaily.com. Only 12 percent of men in the other group, which received just advice, lowered their blood pressure to the same level.

"Medical mistrust has been an important barrier to African-Americans seeking health care, and so the barbershop - where men go on a monthly basis and have an opportunity to develop a rapport with a trusted key opinion leader in the community - that rapport is a ideal foundation for talking about health", he said.

One specific program successfully aided black men in controlling their blood pressure, an issue that disproportionately affects the demographic.

For the patrons working with their barbers and pharmacist, systolic blood pressure dropped from 153 mmHg at the start of the study to 126 mmHg after six months, along with a decrease in diastolic blood pressure of 18 mmHg. By going into spaces where people felt at ease, doctors found patients were more receptive to testing and treatment for high blood pressure. After six months, nearly two-thirds of participants brought their blood pressure into the healthy range.

A little over half of the men (171) were randomly assigned to receive health education from their barbers, who were trained to use a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-developed script to encourage the men to visit their doctors and get their blood pressure under control.

On average, men who interacted only with their barber and were referred to their own doctor saw their systolic blood pressure drop from 155 mm Hg at the start of the study to 145 mm Hg after six months.

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

"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".

"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.

"A big takeaway from this study is to release the fears", said Muhammad, who is a co-author of the study. "We can not fear what the doctor will tell us". About 43 percent of Black men have high blood pressure, compared to 34 percent of White men and 28 percent of Latino men, CDC data show. "Since I could see his heart in this, it was easy for me to offer assistance".

"This is a very significant effect for a hypertension trial of any kind", said Victor, whose hypertension was diagnosed by a barber in Dallas during his first barbershop-based study in the 1990s.

Researchers have started a second phase of the study to determine if the effects are sustained for an additional six months. Victor now aims to do a study of 3,000 men in many cities around the country that will include a look at that.