Imagine going to the barbershop to get a tight fade and coming out with a clean bill of health. Thanks to an $8.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to Cedars-Sinai, that could soon be a reality. Some 20 Los Angeles black barbershop employees will be trained to check patrons for high blood pressure, the medical center announced Monday.
“Uncontrolled hypertension is one of the biggest health problems facing the African-American community today,” said Dr. Ronald G. Victor, director of the Hypertension Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, in a statement released by the medical center. The statement says that Victor’s study, which was published in 2011, showed that if barbers checked their clients’ blood pressure during visits and encouraged ” … patrons with hypertension to follow up with physicians, hundreds of lives could be saved annually.”
“Hypertension is called the silent killer because there are no symptoms,” Victor said in the statement. “We need to find a way to reach out to the community and prevent the serious complications caused by high blood pressure because all too often, by the time a patient finds out they have the condition, the heart and kidneys already have been damaged.”
African-American-owned barbershops and hair salons have long been a part of the medical community’s effort to reach African Americans, who are disproportionately affected by certain types of medical conditions. According to the Cedars-Sinai statement, Victor’s study also demonstrates that ” … if hypertension intervention programs were put in place in the estimated 18,000 African-American barbershops in the U.S., it would result in the first year in about 800 fewer heart attacks, 550 fewer strokes and 900 fewer deaths.”
“We hope that the new trial’s outcomes will show an even greater benefit while lowering the cost of providing high-quality health care for hypertension in a high-risk population,” Victor said in the statement.
Read more at Cedars-Sinai.