Black men tend to have elevated blood pressures, and if it goes untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attacks or stroke.
The percentage of hypertensive black men with controlled blood pressure levels increased between 1999-2004 and 2009-2010, according to a 2014 study published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences.
The findings were published today in The New England Journal of Medicine and presented as Late-Breaking Clinical Trial at the American College of Cardiology's 67th Annual Scientific Session and Expo in Orlando.
"In conclusion, medication management that was delivered in barbershops by specialty-trained pharmacists, as compared with standard management afforded by primary care practices, resulted in much larger blood-pressure reductions in black male patrons of those shops who had hypertension", said lead author Ronald G. Victor, MD, associate director of the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. Uncontrolled hypertension is a significant problem among non-Hispanic black men, the researchers note.
Study participants were divided into two focus groups of men aged 35 to 79.
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"By contrast, men who interacted with their barber and a pharmacist saw their systolic blood pressure drop from 153mm Hg at the start of the study to 126mm Hg after six months".More news: Ukrainian athletes win 5 medals on first day of Paralympics
Over the course of six months, both control groups experienced a drop in blood pressure, although the first group - with a medication intervention - had a decline three times more than the group that only promoted lifestyle changes and doctor visits.
For the intervention, barbers encouraged meetings in barbershops with specialty-trained pharmacists who prescribed drug therapy, while the active control approach had barbers encourage lifestyle modification and doctor appointments.
Victor et al. noted one of the limitations of their study is pharmacists targeted blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg, while primary care providers for control-group participants may have used an in-office goal of 140/90.
Their blood pressure dropped from 153 mmHg at the start of the study to 126 mmHg after six months.
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. At the six-month mark, 11.7% of the group brought their blood pressure into the healthy range. "The rapport I've been able to establish with this group of patients has been unlike any other I've had in my professional career".
"Once you have hypertension, it requires a lifetime commitment to taking medications and making lifestyle changes", Victor said. "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".
The researchers write in the study that they believe the intervention succeeded because the pharmacists made getting blood pressure treatment very convenient. "With this program, we have been able to overcome that barrier". "We can not fear what the doctor will tell us".