Barber Eric Mohammad and customer Mark Sims. Photo Credit: Cedars-Sinai's Smidt Heart Institute.

Barbers Help Black Men to Improve Heart Health: Study

The barbershop is not only a place for a fresh haircut and conversation, but also a place where heart health can become a priority.

Black men who have participated in pharmacist-led blood pressure reduction programs in barbershops continue to have substantial improvements in blood pressure in a 12-month follow-up study.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December, was led by Cedars-Sinai’s Smidt Heart Institute. Researchers followed 52 Los Angeles County barbershops that were assigned to either a pharmacist-led intervention or an active control group. The men had blood pressure levels of 140/90 or more, and were ages 35 to 79.

In the intervention group, barbers promoted follow-up with pharmacists who prescribed blood pressure medication under an agreement with customers’ primary care providers. In the control group, barbers promoted follow-up with primary care providers and lifestyle modification.

After blood pressure assessment at six months, the intervention continued with fewer in-person pharmacist visits to test whether the intervention effect could be sustained safely for one year while reducing pharmacist travel time. Final blood pressure and safety outcomes were assessed in both groups at 12 months.

“Among Black male barbershop patrons with uncontrolled hypertension, health promotion by barbers resulted in large and sustained blood pressure reduction over 12 months when coupled with medication management by American Society of Hypertensioncertified pharmacists,” according to the researchers.

The results showed that when guidance was coupled with medication, a blood pressure measurement of less than 130/80 was achieved by 68 percent of men who participated in the program, compared to 11 percent of those who did not. Normal blood pressure levels for adults are 120/80 or less.

According to the American Heart Association, the prevalence of high blood pressure (or hypertension) in Blacks living in the U.S. is among the highest in the world. More than 40 percent of Black men and women have high blood pressure.

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