The Gilmer Mirror – Black Men s Blood Pressure Is Cut Along With Their Hair

Thomas, the barber at A New You, agreed to participate in the study and help his clients check their blood pressure.

“One day one of the pharmacists asked me, ‘what about you?’” Thomas recounted. “I’m like, ‘Nah. I’m all right.’ … I’d been on high blood pressure medicine for like two years then. I said ‘I don’t like it. It’s messing my body up.’”

Thomas, 49, who had suffered a stroke six years before, said the pills he was taking made him feel sluggish. The pharmacist assigned to A New You was persistent. “They asked me about my lifestyle, how I ate and everything — as opposed to my doctor. He didn’t ask me nothing,” Thomas said.

The pharmacist changed his medicine, the blood pressure machine was moved in, and Thomas — as well as his patrons — started to listen.

With a little golf he plays now, and some changes in his diet, Thomas said his systolic blood pressure is down to 129. “I feel great,” he said, adding that “it’s also fulfilling” to help his customers control their blood pressure as well.

Even though the study is over, Thomas still talks to his customers about hypertension. And the blood pressure machine is still there for anyone to use.

Thomas said efforts like these can help change long-engrained habits among African-American men.

“A lot of us use the emergency room as doctors,” he said. “So I think [these] studies will help out a great deal.”

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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