A cluster-randomized trial of blood-pressure reduction in barbershops
13 March, 2018, 18:25 | Author: Darnell Taylor
The researchers also pointed out an additional 3.5 million black men in the USA are considered to have hypertension now that the ACC and American Heart Association have dropped the lower threshold to 130/80 mm Hg.
The study included 303 men with an average blood pressure of 154 (anything over 130 is considered high), and 52 barbershops across Los Angeles. Uncontrolled hypertension is a significant problem among non-Hispanic black men, the researchers note.
At baseline, about one-half of participants in both groups were taking blood pressure medication.
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, 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 ideal place to reach Black men for health screenings, according to the Associated Press.
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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. The rest were given advice and encouragement on healthy lifestyle choices from their barber, who urged them to see a doctor for follow up. But most hypertensive black men still have blood pressures above the old barrier of 140/90.
Researchers have started a second phase of the study to determine if the benefits can be sustained for an additional six months.
"There is a different level of trust and respect that's earned when you meet people where they are, instead of in a hospital or clinic", said C. Adair Blyler, a pharmacist who treated patrons while they were in the barbershops.
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.
Left untreated, high blood pressure can damage blood vessels throughout the body, according to the American Heart Association. "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".
That level of trust and rapport is essential in treating hypertension, because it's a chronic condition that requires ongoing care and lifestyle changes, Victor said. "We can not fear what the doctor will tell us". It is often challenging to get people who need blood pressure medication to take them, even as costs and side effects have gone down over the years. "Since I could see his heart in this, it was easy for me to offer assistance".
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