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Dallas Barbers Help Cut Hypertension

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DALLAS, Dec 22, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Dallas barbers are helping doctors cut high blood pressure among black men, the group with the highest rate of uncontrolled hypertension in the United States.

A program started at two Dallas barbershops by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is designed to improve the men's awareness, treatment and control of high blood pressure.

Funded by a $50,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation and a $43,000 research grant from Pfizer Inc., the 10-month program is a spin-off of the Dallas Heart Study, a landmark project led by UT Southwestern and funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

"Our initial work shows that barbershops are an effective setting to detect high blood pressure in African-American men and to make appropriate medical referrals," said Dr. Ron Victor, chief of hyptertension at UT Southwestern and principal investigator.

The barbers, trained to become blood-pressure specialists, already have started recording their customers' blood pressure using automated devices. They are identifying customers with untreated hypertension and referring them to medical care.

"The remarkable long-term patronage and high frequency of haircut visits makes the barbershop an excellent setting for detection and long-term medical follow-up of hypertension," Victor said.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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