Barbershops a prime location for blood pressure interventions among black men

Barbershops a prime location for blood pressure interventions among black men

Barbershops a prime location for blood pressure interventions among black men

By going into spaces where people felt at ease, doctors found patients were more receptive to testing and treatment for high blood pressure. The men in the study-who were 35 to 79 years old-had systolic blood pressure measurements of 140 or more. The second group, however, suggested lifestyle changes that could help their patrons improve their blood pressure while also encouraging them to make appointments with their doctors.

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. In this experiment and others, public health interventions have targeted barbershops in order to improve the health of the men who visit them.

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.

"Non-Hispanic black men have the highest rate of hypertension-related death of any racial, ethnic, or sex group in the United States", the authors wrote in their introduction.

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. Those in the intervention group were also more likely to be treated with long-acting agents such as amlodipine, irbesartan or telmisartan, and indapamide, vs those in the control group. At six months, 100 percent of those seeing a pharmacist and 63 percent of those seeing only a barber were taking blood pressure medications. "It takes all of maybe three to five minutes to take the blood pressure reading so after I finished with my client, I would strap the blood pressure cuff on them and give them their blood pressure reading", he said.

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

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"High blood pressure is a chronic illness that requires a lifetime commitment to medication and lifestyle modification", Victor said.

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".

In the new study, "we added a pharmacist into the mix" so medicines could be prescribed on the spot, he said. Dr. Victor has a very honest desire to bring down blood pressure in people in general, and in black men in particular.

"This is a very large effect for a hypertension trial of any kind", Victor said. The researchers note that sustainability beyond 6 months is being considered in ongoing extension study.

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. Victor now aims to do a study of 3,000 men in many cities around the country that will include a look at that.

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.

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