Discoveries Magazine


Who’s Who: Ronald Victor, MD

Name: Ronald Victor, MDRonald G. Victor, MD, is Director of the Cedars-Sinai Center for Hypertension, Associate Director of Clinical Research and holds the Burns and Allen Chair in Cardiology Research at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine with a subspecialty in cardiovascular diseases., Director, Cedars-Sinai Center for Hypertension

Associate Director of Clinical Research, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute

Professor of Medicine

Burns and Allen Chair in Cardiology research

Thinking a Cut Above: Uncontrolled hypertension is one of the leading causes of premature disability and death among African-American men. To address this problem, Dr. Victor is taking blood pressure testing out of the doctor’s office and into the barbershop chair, enabling barbers to become health educators and help combat the epidemic of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in their communities.

On Location: at Wally’s, the oldest and most respected barbershop in Altadena, Calif., Dr. Victor gets a cut and a blood pressure check from Wally Riddle. “We’ve had a 90 percent participation rate from the customers at Wally’s because he’s been around for 17 years.”

Hair Club for Men: African-American men are the least likely population to seek treatment for hypertension.

“We needed to find an environment where men felt very comfortable, and that s the barbershop. It’s a social hub, but it isn’t exclusive. It’s where men go to relax and talk about whatever is on their minds. It’s a very positive place in the African-American culture.”

Beep, Beep, Snip, Snip: “For the program to have a positive impact, barbers have to be our champions. They check a customer’s blood pressure three times during a haircut—if it’s elevated, the customer is sent to their doctor or referred to a physician.” You also get a free haircut if you bring your blood pressure medication with you on your next visit.

The reveal: Dr. Victor’s pilot program showed markedly improved blood pressure control among barbershop patrons in Dallas. He is now launching a study with African-American barbershops in Southern California.

Bloody Barbering: During medieval times, barbers performed minor surgery on customers, as well as tooth extractions. The origin of the red, white, and blue barber pole is associated with bloodletting and represented bandages wrapped around a pole: red for arterial blood, blue for veins, and white for clean bandages. Blood pressure checks do not involve bloody bandages.

In the Chair: I told the barbers that any man who walks into their shop is fair game, and they said, if I was going to talk the talk, I had to walk the walk. They tested my blood pressure and discovered that I have hypertension! I was put  on blood pressure medication immediately.” Since starting this project, Dr. Victor also has been getting his hair cut every two weeks.


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