Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Barbershops in black communities are cutting blood pressure, as well as hair, with a new health intervention.
Findings from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, published Monday in the journal Circulation, from 52 Los Angeles County barbershops with pharmacists on hand to prescribe blood pressure medicine for customers show the method is a good one to reach people.
Following the 12-month study, the systolic number, or the top number, in a blood pressure reading fell by almost 29 mmHg in the intervention group and the bottom number, or diastolic, dropped by 7.2 mmHg.
"Our initial six-month data showed a marked reduction of blood pressure in the intervention group," C. Adair Blyler, a clinical pharmacist at the Smidt Heart Institute and study co-author, said in a news release. "Now, our 12-month data show that this significant reduction in blood pressure can be sustained, and in some cases, even improved, despite fewer in-person visits with a pharmacist."
The research followed up on an earlier study that examined the practice of putting clinicians in barbershops to prescribe blood pressure medication to patrons with hypertension.
People with blood pressure higher than 130 over 80 have hypertension, and people higher than 120 have an elevated level. Untreated blood pressure, often referred to as the "silent killer," can lead to heart failure, kidney disease and stroke.
"This study will have lasting impact on one of our nation's most at-risk populations when it comes to high blood pressure," said Eduardo Marbán, director of the Smidt Heart Institute. "As an institution, we are proud of these results and know Ron Victor would have been proud to see his vision produce such successful results that will have a positive effect on thousands of lives."
The Smidt Heart Institute researchers will broaden their scope to test the barbershop model in other high-risk communities.