High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it may not show symptoms before causing a heart attack or stroke. Hypertension is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke among New Yorkers; more than one in four adult New Yorkers is diagnosed with high blood pressure. In New York City, the prevalence of hypertension is 1.5 times higher among African American adults than white adults, and African American men in particular have a significantly higher rate of hypertension than white men. Under the program, New York City’s Health and Mental Hygiene department will work with BP Oddo to address the high blood pressure rates among African American men.
Individuals in communities with high health disparities have historically struggled to access care. One way experts have sought to overcome this challenge is by partnering with community spaces to conduct outreach. One program BP Oddo is familiar with is the Men’s Health Initiative, led by Dr. Joseph Ravenell at NYU’s Langone Health. The program has brought together a diverse group of research assistants, community health workers, and volunteers—including barbers—to barbershops in various neighborhoods across New York City to take blood pressure readings of African American men and connect those who are at risk of hypertension with medical care. The results of the program show a significant improvement in blood pressure among barbershop customers who participated. The proposed Staten Island program would reflect Dr. Ravenell’s program.
BP Oddo first discovered Dr. Joseph Ravenell’s work while reading “Who Can You Trust?” by Rachel Botsman. He subsequently watched Dr. Ravenell’s TED Talk on African American men and high blood pressure which detailed the barbershop pilot program. The TED Talk can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6zkeyM0D2s
BP Oddo invited Dr. Ravenell to Borough Hall for a meeting with his staff and local clergy in early June to talk about replicating the program on Staten Island.
“High blood pressure can lead to fatal consequences if left unchecked, and unfortunately, so many African American men don’t even know they have it,” said BP Oddo. “After reading about the issue, I became incredibly interested in Dr. Ravenell’s program and worked with my staff to figure out how we could replicate it successfully on Staten Island. I’m pleased that the Administration has joined with us to bring this program to life on the North Shore. I hope this program allows African American men in our community to learn more about the issue and take control of their health. Thank you to Dr. Ravenell for working with us to bring this innovative program to Staten Island.”
“High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke – New York City’s top killers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “High blood pressure is a common and dangerous condition that impacts an estimated 1.8 million New Yorkers. The Health Department recently launched a coalition of over 100 stakeholders focused on reducing the burden of high blood pressure citywide. I applaud Borough President Oddo and Mayor de Blasio for their attention to raising awareness of this condition among Staten Island residents.”
On Staten Island, the number of hospitalizations related to hypertension are higher than other boroughs. The neighborhoods of St. George/Stapleton and Port Richmond have higher rates of hospitalization for high blood pressure than the city overall.