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How Barbershops Could Play a Role in Lowering Blood Pressure

13 March 2018

Those who met with the pharmacist monthly in their barbershop lowered their systolic blood pressure by 21mm Hg more, on average, compared with the other men, said the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

High blood pressure is a top cause of early disability and death among black American men.

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

Study participants were divided into two focus groups of men aged 35 to 79.

A new study by the Smidt Heart Institute (paid for by the National Institutes of Health) was released on Monday and suggests that providing health screenings at barbershops can help African-American men to significantly lower their blood pressure. After six months, 11.7% of men in this group saw their blood pressure decrease to a healthy point. A pharmacist-led intervention referred to barbers encouraging meetings in barbershops with specialty-trained pharmacists who prescribed medications under a collaborative practice agreement with the participants' doctors.

"Among black male barbershop patrons with uncontrolled hypertension, health promotion by barbers resulted in larger blood-pressure reduction when coupled with medication management in barbershops by specialty trained physicians", the authors wrote in the conclusion.

In the control group, the barbers talked to the men about blood pressure and healthy lifestyle changes and encouraged them to see a health provider. But most hypertensive black men still have blood pressures above the old barrier of 140/90. A Cluster-Randomized Trial of Blood-Pressure Reduction in Black Barbershops. One group of the 303 men in the study received information and tips about managing hypertension, while the other group met pharmacists at the barbershop to receive treatment.

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.

Mean systolic BP at baseline was 152.8mmHg and 154.6mmHg in the intervention and control groups, respectively. "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".

"A big takeaway from this study is to release the fears", said Muhammad, who is a co-author of the study. "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. "We can not fear what the doctor will tell us".

The researchers write in the study that they believe the intervention succeeded because the pharmacists made getting blood pressure treatment very convenient. "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 own hypertension was diagnosed by a barber in Dallas during his first barbershop-based study in the 1990s.

How Barbershops Could Play a Role in Lowering Blood Pressure