NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mark Sims never thought a haircut would turn into a wake up call for his health, but then his barber convinced him to let him check his blood pressure.

“It 175 over 125, which is stroke bound,” said Sims.

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It was the health risks Sims and other clients faced that convinced shop owner Eric Muhammad to take part in a study to see if barber shops could help African American men get their high blood pressure under control.

“If we could just save one life I think it’s a win,” said Muhammad.

According to Dr. Ronald Victor of Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, black men in particular have the highest high blood pressure related death rate of any group in the United States.

A study that looked at more than 300 African American men at 52 Los Angeles barbershops found the men who had their pressure checked, then met with a pharmacist at the shop for treatment, saw their top blood pressure number drop nearly 30-points after six months.

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“That will help a lot in the number of heart attacks and strokes that can be prevented,” said Victor.

The idea is to make it simple and convenient for men to get their pressure checked and treated.

Sims is now on medication and has adopted healthier habits that also help lower his pressure.

“I’ve stopped drinking, I’ve stopped smoking, I started exercising and I’ve changed my diet,” said Sims.

The American Heart Association says that dropping your blood pressure by even just a few points significantly reduces your risk for heart attack and stroke.

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The study was so successful in Los Angeles, researchers now want to expand the program to other barbershops across the country.