Haircuts and important blood pressure screenings in Dix Hills. NewsdayTV's Drew Scott reports. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez

The menu at Paramount Styles in Dix Hills features a barbershop’s familiar staples — basic haircut, beard trim, hot towel shave.

Customers can even get their teeth whitened.

On Saturday, the menu expanded to include a potentially lifesaving service, courtesy of a partnership between Suffolk County and Stony Brook Medicine. The fresh-cut customers were offered a courtesy blood pressure screening.

The Suffolk County Health Department’s Office of Minority Health launched the “Styled Wellness” program as part of a larger initiative called Suffolk County Health Outreach Partnerships, or SHOP. At Paramount Styles and Imperial Kutt Kreators in East Patchogue, nursing and physician assistant students at Stony Brook Medicine screened willing customers. 

“It’s less intimidating than going to a doctor’s office,” said Dr. Jessica Fenton, a preventive medicine resident at Stony Brook. “And some people don’t have time to go the doctor or make these separate appointments.”

The medical staff at both locations pressed upon customers the importance of monitoring blood pressure, noting how hypertension is commonly referred to as a “silent killer” since there may not be obvious warning signs of a problem. Fenton later said 34 people at both locations were screened Saturday.

“You don’t really know it’s too high until something bad happens,” said Natalie Fox, a nursing student who screened customers at Paramount Styles alongside fellow student Madison Schwarz.

The collaboration with minority-owned barbershops dates back nearly two decades and prior initiatives have focused on sexually transmitted diseases, CPR and strokes, according to the health department.

Alex Diaz, 33, of Deer Park, missed his appointment Friday at the Dix Hills barbershop where he’s gotten his hair cut for the past three years. He came back Saturday and agreed to the screening after shop owner Luis Fuentes finished his trim.

The screening measured his blood pressure as high, but Fox noted the media cameras pointed his direction could have spiked his reading.

Alex Diaz gets a haircut from Luis Fuentes, owner of Paramount...

Alex Diaz gets a haircut from Luis Fuentes, owner of Paramount Styles, before getting his blood pressure checked. Credit: Rick Kopstein

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said of his missed appointment a day earlier.

He added that he appreciated the opportunity since, “as men, we don’t really like to check our health. It’s nice to have it here in the barbershop.”

Michael Martinez, 42, of Commack, said after his screening that high blood pressure runs his family.

“I was saying to myself I need to get back to the gym, eat a little bit better, but it’s just life,” the father of three said.

At Imperial Kutt Kreators, owner and longtime barber, James Plummer, leaned back in his chair at the front desk midafternoon after about 10 customers had agreed to blood pressure screenings.

He said the barbershop hosted a similar program a few years ago when the shop was located at a different site.

“People like to know their health and know if they got high blood pressure,” he said.

Adesuwa Watson, director of Suffolk County’s Office of Minority Health, said customers in East Patchogue had been “really receptive, even if they were a little apprehensive at first.

“It’s just a reminder that this is a key indicator of your health,” she added.

Kevin Waters, 55, of Medford, said his screening showed blood pressure “sitting a little on high side.”

“But I’m confident I can bring it down with my diet,” he added.

The initiative continues April 26 at Sir Shave Barber Parlor in Wyandanch from 4:30-7 p.m. and April 27 at House of Essence in Amityville from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Blood pressure facts

  • High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vision loss.

  • Being active, reducing stress, proper sleep and a healthy diet help keep blood pressure normal.

  • Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80 mmHg.

Source: American Heart Association

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