The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados has announced its intention to partner with barber shops across the island, as part of efforts to encourage more men to regularly monitor their blood pressure.
Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology at The UWI, Dr. Kenneth Connell made the declaration as Attorney General Dale Marshall shared details of his struggle with high blood pressure while at the Prime Minister’s official residence on Friday.
“Men don’t usually go out to get screened. It’s usually a huge challenge and so in 2022 the message needs to be that men need to use every opportunity. Don’t just go to the doctor to have your blood pressure done. Have your blood pressure done anywhere,” Dr Connell declared.
He added: “We hope in Barbados to roll out a barbershop project pretty soon because men go to barbers pretty often and you can have your blood pressure checked. You are sitting comfortably, relaxed, for 15-20 minutes, have your blood-pressure checked and then take action.”
Dr Connell explained that the ‘barbershop project’ was conceptualised in the U.S city of New Orleans in 2018 and targeted at African American men. He said the initiative would involve the training of local barbers and include systems of reporting that will allow men to benefit from the public health system.
“Obviously information will be kept confidential, but we don’t want you to just get your blood pressure checked in the barbershop and get your haircut and leave. We want some system where that barber can fast-track you into a health system. Maybe the nearest polyclinic, for instance, so you don’t have to go through the hassle because we are removing barriers,” Dr Connell said.
Reporters were invited to Ilaro Court where Marshall’s blood pressure measurements were taken as part of May Measurement month.
“I was happy to participate in the exercise of having my blood pressure taken, but this is not new,” said the Attorney General.
“I have had high blood pressure for many many years. I am not sure what brought it on, if it was politics or the law, but whatever the reason for it, I have had to deal with that and I’ve been on prescribed medication to keep my blood pressure under control for a long time,” he added.
Marshall encouraged Barbadians to be mindful of high blood pressure, “the silent killer”.
“Getting regular blood pressure checks is going to be vital and in this especially stressful time it is probably more important now than ever. So for all of those Barbadians who don’t pay any attention to this kind of thing, please get your blood pressure checked,” Marshall urged.
“It doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t cost anything and there’s nothing that can compare to taking good care of yourself and paying attention to your health,” he added.
Dr Connell said it was important for the legal fraternity to be included in the activities to send a clear message about the relationship between health and law.
He is also hoping that more people will take advantage of home blood pressure monitoring systems to guard against hypertension, which he described as a major risk to cardiovascular health. (KS)