Bar­bershop study trimmed men’s hair, blood pres­sure

Manteca Bulletin - - Local/Nation -

OR­LANDO, Fla. ( AP) — Trim your hair, your beard, your blood pres­sure? 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.

The pro­ject had phar­ma­cists work with dozens of Los An­ge­les bar­ber­shops to test and treat clients. The re­sults, re­ported Mon­day at a car­di­ol­ogy con­fer­ence, have doc­tors plan­ning to ex­pand the pro­ject to more cities na­tion­wide.

“There’s open com­mu­ni­ca­tion in a bar­bershop. There’s a re­la­tion­ship, a trust,” said Eric Muham­mad, owner of A New You Bar­bershop, one of the bar­bers who par­tic­i­pated. “We have a lot more in­flu­ence than just the doc­tor walk­ing in the door.”

Black men have high rates of high blood pres­sure — a top read­ing over 130 or a bot­tom one over 80 — and the prob­lems it can cause, such as strokes and heart at­tacks. Only half of Amer­i­cans with high pres­sure have it un­der con­trol; many don’t even know they have the con­di­tion.

Churches, beauty sa­lons and other com­mu­nity spots have been used to reach groups that of­ten lack ac­cess to doc­tors, to pro­mote cancer screen­ings and other ser­vices. Dr. Ron­ald Vic­tor, a car­di­ol­o­gist at Cedars-Si­nai Med­i­cal Cen­ter, wanted to reach black men.

“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. “It al­most has a social club feel to it, a de­light­ful, friendly en­vi­ron­ment” that makes it ideal for im­prov­ing health.

Vic­tor did a study in 17 Dal­las bar­ber­shops a few years ago. In that one, bar­bers tested pa­trons and re­ferred them to doc­tors. Im­prove­ments were mod­est.

In the new study, “we added a phar­ma­cist into the mix” so medicines could be pre­scribed on the spot, he said.

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