Blood Pressure Check With Your Trim?

Barbers and physicians have a cozy relationship, and here's why.  In the 14th century there were three categories of medical practitioners: barbers, physicians, and surgeons.  Then the Black Death killed off half the population, including almost all the physicians and most of the surgeons.  The remaining surgeons joined forces with the barbers to dispense medical care (such as it was).

Now that relationship continues, with barbers being enlisted to check their patrons for high blood pressure and encourage them to seek medical care and stick with their medications.  The study is in the current issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Seventeen black-owned barbershops participated in this study.  In eight of the shops, with 77 men who had high blood pressure participating in each shop, pamphlets were provided to explain the dangers of high blood pressure to patrons.  In nine of the shops with 75 men with high blood pressure participating, the barbers were trained to measure blood pressure and counsel men to see their physician for follow up and deliver other appropriate health messages.

Men who received blood pressure monitoring and counseling from their barbers achieved slightly better blood pressure control than men who did not, suggesting that such an intervention is effective.  It's also cost-effective from the standpoint of fewer heart attacks and other consequences of high blood pressure.  And as Rick and I agree in the podcast, barbers seem to like it.  It furthers relationship building and that is a big part of haircuts and barbershop society already.  A win-win!

Other topics this week include a British Medical Journal study on opiate substitution in helping people overcome addiction, two conflicting studies, one in JAMA and one in NEJM, on genes and response to the blood thinning agent clopidogrel, and also in the British Medical Journal, a look at reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.  Until next week, y'all live well.

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