Cutting Your Hair And Your Heart Risk

Darlick Clinton and Darryl Brown have been friends since they were kids. Today, Brown not only trusts his friend when it comes to a close shave, he trusts him with his health, CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras reports.

The barber measures blood pressure - and offers health tips.

"Watch your salt intake … and take your medication on time," Clinton said.

Baltimore's Park Heights Barbershop is an unlikely frontline in the battle against hypertension among black men.

"Isn't a barbershop kind of an odd place to have your blood pressure taken?" Assuras asked one customer.

"Well, it's a good thing, because a lot of times we don't even be thinking about doing nothing like this so to come out here … this is lovely!" he said.

Black men are twice as likely as white men to have undiagnosed and untreated high blood pressure - a precursor to heart disease. And that's the No. 1 killer of black Americans.

"We're asking you to become semi-doctors," said Cardiologist Elijah Saunders.

Saunders, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, helped launch Hair, Heart and Health, a six-week course.

"You're going to feel the pulsation and that's called his brachial artery," one instructor said in class.

Barbers learn to measure blood pressure, and when to send their clients to a doctor.

Why the barbershop?

"Why go into the banks? That's where the money is. So we go into the barbershop because that's where the men are!" Saunders said.

"This is the black man's country club!" Clinton said. "You come here, you talk about politics."

Brown added: "Everything!"

The Barbershop experience became a hit movie - and one study shows 80 percent of blackmen visit a barbershop at least once a month, staying almost three hours.

"A barbershop is a heartbeat of the community," said barber Maurice Braxton.

Clinton feels he's been saving lives. "I think definitely," he said.

Brown said: "Cause if it weren't for him I would never never be here."

Brown, on the advice of his barber, finally saw a doctor, started blood-pressure medication and dropped 30 pounds.

"I look good and my health's good, so what can I ask for?" he said. "Can't get more!"

Just what the doctor - and the barber - ordered.