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Barbershops Join Fight Against High Blood Pressure in Black Men
Date:8/1/2014

By
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Across the country, barbershops serve as a time-honored destination for a good cut and conversation.

Now experts want to see whether barbershops might also be the spot to tackle an often overlooked health concern: high blood pressure among black men.

In a novel partnership, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, together with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), enlisted the help of barbershop staff to both discuss and diagnose high blood pressure after they were given training.

"Initially we tried to do screenings in churches," explained study lead researcher Vincent Mendy, an epidemiologist in MSDH's Office of Preventive Health. "But only 20 to 30 percent of the people we were reaching were men. So we decided we had to go to where the men are. And barbershops are a good example."

In the initial trial that included 14 barbershops, one-third of the men tested were found to have high blood pressure, and about half were just on the cusp of high blood pressure, known as pre-hypertensive or pre-high blood pressure.

More than a third of those screened ended up being referred to a doctor for follow-up, and Mendy described the project's results as "encouraging." In fact, he said that he and his colleagues plan to expand the program to include a greater number of barbershops.

The researchers outline their efforts in the July 24 issue of the CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease.

More than 40 percent of blacks have high blood pressure, which typically manifests at an earlier age and in a more severe form than is usually the case among other ethnic groups, according to the American Heart Association. Blood pressure plays a role in many serious health conditions, su
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