‘Silent killer’ in Dayton meets its match: Barbershops

Here in Dayton, getting a haircut can be a life-saver.

High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because often it does not cause pain or result in other obvious symptoms. Alarm bells often don't go off until it's too late.

But people don't have to visit a doctor to get their blood pressure checked. They can swing by City Stars Unlimited barbershop, at 1649 N. Gettysburg Ave., and get a nice trim while they are at it.

Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County, in conjunction with Sinclair Community College, placed blood pressure cuffs at City Stars as part of minority health month, which is in April.

Public health would like to put blood pressure monitors at other barbershops and salons across Montgomery County because they are popular gathering spots and a community resource, said Haley Riegel, public health’s grant manager for communities preventing chronic disease.

“You should just be aware of what your blood pressure is,” she said.

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Danny Beasley, a 32-year-old barber at City Stars, died in late 2017 from heart complications, officials said.

Beasley was black, and black men are at a much higher risk of hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, than other segments of the population.

About half of black residents tested in Montgomery County have high blood pressure, and black people tend to have high blood pressure at earlier ages, compared to other races, Riegel said.

Last month, City Stars hosted a three-hour event that allowed visitors to get free blood pressure checks, which was part of "Minority Health Month." The checks were part of project named after Beasley.

The blood pressure cuffs remain at the barbershop. Public health trained the shop’s staff on how to use the equipment and screen visitors.

Using barbershops to combat hypertension isn’t a new concept — it’s used in other communities across the nation, Riegel said. But projects across the nation have proven effective at improving community health.

People who have eleveated blood pressure can combat it by changing their diets, losing weight, taking medication, exercise regularly and limit alcohol.

People with high blood pressure should consult their doctor or other medical experts.

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