Barbers in south London are being trained to test the blood pressure of their customers to try and combat undiagnosed high blood pressure.
Eight hairdressers across the south of the capital, including Bromley and Croydon, will be trained to give on-the-spot checks for customers who want one.
Run by London South Bank University (LSBU), the project is targeting black and Asian men in London because they are statistically more likely to have undiagnosed high blood pressure.
The London barbershop blood pressure testing project is following the example of a similar project which took place in Los Angeles.
The US project ran from 2016 to 2018 and 68% of people found to have high blood pressure ended the study with healthy levels.
It is reported that around four million people in the UK suffer from undiagnosed high blood pressure, 500,000 of which are in London.
Whilst millions go undiagnosed, it accounts for 75,000 deaths every year in the UK.
Leading to kidney disease, vascular dementia and mobility problems, high blood pressure is the third biggest cause of disease in the UK and costs the NHS £2 billion every year,
One in 10 visits to GPs are caused by high blood pressure, and the problem affects around 30% of men in the UK, half of which are undiagnosed.
The London barbershop project will target Black and Asian men who are more likely to have high blood pressure and less likely to be diagnosed than the general population.
Beginning on Monday, barbers in Croydon, Mitcham, Thornton Heath, Bromley and South Norwood are taking part in the scheme.
Hugh Benain, from Finishing Touches in Mitcham, said the project could help save lives.
“We’ll be offering our customers on-the-spot blood pressure tests and health information for them to take away,” he said.
“High blood pressure is a silent killer and providing tests and information from our barbershop could save lives.”
Nicola Thomas, an LSBU professor, said: “Sadly, millions of adults in the UK have high blood pressure and half are undiagnosed which can lead to strokes or heart attacks.
“It is the trusting relationship that customers have with their barbers that is so important – we need to take healthcare out into the community.”
The eight London barbers who will be providing blood pressure tests are: Finishing Touches (Mitcham), Yian the Barber (South Norwood), Cutter Hair Doctor (South Norwood), J & D Doyleys (Thornton Heath), House of Bertrand (Bromley), Da Ace Of Fades (Thornton Heath), The Barber Shop (Croydon) and Juls The Hair Klinik (Mitcham).