Haircuts and hypertension
Barbershops can help shave the high rates of high blood pressure among African American men, a new study suggests.
More than 40 percent of African Americans have hypertension, which often lacks symptoms. It raises the risk of stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure.
The two-phase study done at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center enlisted 15 black-owned barbershops in Dallas.
By offering free blood- pressure screening – plus free haircuts – the shops identified patrons with hypertension and urged them to consult physicians to get medication and counseling.
In the second phase, the barbershops were randomly assigned to give these 1,022 hypertensive patrons either educational pamphlets or support – blood pressure checks with each haircut.
After 10 months, 66 percent of men in the support group had good blood-pressure control, up from 49 percent.
Beware red yeast rice as a statin substitute
Millions of Americans with high cholesterol are using red yeast rice supplements to lower blood fats the way prescription statin drugs do.
But a study in the current Archives of Internal Medicine found large variations in the active ingredients in 12 red yeast rice products. And four supplements had high levels of citrinin, which can damage kidneys and is deadly in high doses.
The study, by Philly-area cardiologists Ram Y. Gordon and David J. Becker with ConsumerLab.com, found the monacolin content varied from 0.31 mg to 11.15 mg. Monacolins – especially monacolin K, similar to the statin drug lovastatin – are believed to help control cholesterol. While the products may one day be alternatives to prescription drugs, physicians should use caution recommending them until their quality is more standardized.
By Marie McCullough and Josh Goldstein
Inquirer Staff Writers