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For Black Men, Haircuts Might Also Cut High Blood Pressure

Barbers who offer BP checks help customers beat hypertension, study finds

TUESDAY, Oct. 26, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Offering black men blood pressure checks while they're having their hair cut could help them keep hypertension at bay, a new study finds.

This could be a new way to help reduce rates of uncontrolled high blood pressure, one of the leading causes of premature disability and death among black men in the United States.

"Compared with black women, men have less frequent physician contact for preventive care and thus substantially lower rates of hypertension detection, medical treatment and control," according to Dr. Ronald G. Victor, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas at the time of the study, and now at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues.

The study was conducted at 17 black-owned barbershops in Dallas County, Texas between March 2006 and December 2008. Eight shops were assigned to the intervention group and nine shops were assigned to a comparison group.

The shops in the intervention group offered more than 600 hypertensive customers personalized health information and blood pressure checks during their haircut. The shops in the comparison group offered 695 hypertensive customers standard education pamphlets about high blood pressure, but no tests.

The number of men who got their hypertension under control in the intervention group increased almost 20 percent, from 33.8 percent at the start of the study to 53.7 percent at follow-up. The rate in the comparison group increased about 11 percent, from 40 percent to 51 percent, the study authors found.

The rate of hypertension treatment also increased by about 11 percent in the intervention group and just over 6 percent in the comparison group.

The study appears online and in the Feb. 28, 2011 print issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to lowering high blood pressure.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Oct. 25, 2010
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