Maria Paschalidis, DO, a family medicine physician, has started seeing patients on Kennedy Boulevard in Union City. Part of the Englewood Health Physician Network, Dr. Paschalidis is fluent in Greek and Spanish.
What is family medicine?
Dr. Paschalidis: A doctor who works in family medicine is able to care for all members of a family, at all ages —the kids, the parents and the grandparents. I was drawn to this field during medical school because I found I was able to get to know my patients much more closely. As a family doctor, you know everything about a family and they get to know you as well. I find my patients are more inclined to trust me and act on my advice if they know who I am and that I’m coming from a good place.
Is it important to see a doctor even if I don’t feel sick?
Dr. Paschalidis: Most of the diseases I see in my practice (prediabetes, diabetes and hypertension) do not cause physical symptoms that would typically prompt a patient to seek medical attention. For instance, a person who feels great on a day-to-day basis and falls within in a normal weight range, may actually be prediabetic, have high cholesterol or be hypertensive. Regular wellness visits allow us to detect an otherwise invisible illness or disease before it becomes a much larger issue down the road.
This is called preventive medicine, right?
Dr. Paschalidis: Right. Preventive medicine is all about getting checked out by a physician before you’ve developed a disease that can only be treated by medication, or other intervention. I encourage people of all ages to come in and get an evaluation so that, if there is a sign of something developing, we can manage it before the long-term consequences of the disease begin to manifest; whether that be a heart attack or stroke.
What advice do you give your patients with prediabetes?
Dr. Paschalidis: Lifestyle changes are hugely important. A regimen of diet and exercise can change everything for someone with prediabetes. I go into great detail with my patients about the specific changes they can make—providing handouts so that patients can refer back to the information after they leave my office. If we find we are unable to get their numbers under control through basic lifestyle changes, there are medicines available that can help prevent the development of diabetes.
How do you typically treat someone with high blood pressure?
Dr. Paschalidis: High blood pressure, or hypertension, is caused by a combination of stress, diet and genetic factors.Early treatment is similar to that for prediabetes—diet and exercise modifications. With hypertension there is the added element of stress, so I encourage patients to do whatever they can to lower their stress levels. In addition to lifestyle changes, most patients will require medication to control their blood pressure.
Posted December 2018
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Other links or resources
Englewood Health Physician Network
Diabetes Self-Management Education Program