Yet many black men remain completely unaware of their blood pressure status. One reason is that high blood pressure often has no symptoms. Another may be a total lack of insurance, too little insurance, or a lack of ready access to health care.
Between 2012 and 2013, the 14 barbershops located in 10 Mississippi cities were recruited as centers for blood pressure screenings, which meant offering staff training on basic cardiovascular risk factors as well as the blood pressure screening process.
In the study time frame, almost 700 black men were screened. Nearly 15 percent had normal blood pressure. But, more than a third were diagnosed with high blood pressure. And, almost half were pre-hypertensive.
Only about four in 10 of the men tested had health insurance. Only about one-third had a personal doctor, according to the study.
"Going forward we plan to better link those men who do have high blood pressure with community health workers in their counties," Mendy added, "to insure that they visit a health care provider and learn how to navigate the health care system."
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggested that the Mississippi project is an example of a very practical way to get information and care to individuals who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
"Despite compelling evidence and guidelines that lowering elevated blood pressures reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, there are still a large number of men and women in the United States without adequate awareness, treatment and control of high blood pressure," he noted. "Certain groups remain particularly at risk of having their blood pressure not well controlled, and as a result are having cardiovascular events and strokes that could have been prevented."
But Fonarow noted that accessing these groups in a popular community setting like a barbershop creates "new t
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