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Buzz cuts and blood pressure


In Harlem, there are a few barbershops which are doubling as informal health centers. Get you hair trimmed and your blood pressure taken. And the approach is working toward getting more of an underserved community to take notice of their health.

Dennis Mitchell owns Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in New York’s historic African-American neighborhood of Harlem. This May he accepted shipment of blood pressure machines and joined a growing list of salons and barbershops providing this service to their clients.

“Black men unfortunately are overrepresented in professions that are less likely to be insured,” he said. “There’s also a history of a distrust of the healthcare system which we think keeps some black men from visiting the doctor. We try to overcome that barrier by going to the settings where black men are more comfortable.”

It’s a uniquely intimate relationship, that of a man to his barber. Women and friends, jobs and hobbies may come and go, but the man who trims your hair every few weeks is there for the long haul. Studies show that men who get treatment for hypertension will continue treatment regularly if they get their blood pressure checked by their barber.

For Mitchell, it’s a mission. Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2010, he has lost 45 pounds and taken control of his health. “I tell people, ‘When you’re fat, you’re sick.’ Point blank. No sugar coating,” explained Mitchell. And it’s a message reaching this at risk group of men who need to hear it.

Source: Reuters


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