Ask the Doctor: Why Early Diagnosis of Diabetes and Hypertension is Important


Meghana Malipeddi, MD, primary care provider at St. Joseph Hospital Family Medicine & Specialty Services – Merrimack

Why did you decide to focus on primary care?
I grew up in a family that had one primary care doctor that we all saw. He knew each of us and our family history and tailored his care of us accordingly. I wanted to be that person and that provider to other people and families.

When and why did you join this practice?
I joined the practice in September 2023. As a provider coming out of residency, I was looking for a welcoming, small practice. I was also impressed with the amount of community service St. Joe’s does and the availability of professional development opportunities. I wanted to be part of a care team that genuinely believes in helping people live healthier, better lives.

 What are the most common conditions you see that concern you?
Two of the conditions I see that very much concern me are diabetes and hypertension or high blood pressure.

  • Diabetes – I find some patients who suffer from heart, kidney or neurological issues later in life, probably had undiagnosed diabetes. Unfortunately, symptoms were missed, and they went untreated. It’s important to focus on recognizing symptoms and identifying conditions early, so we can proactively treat and manage them before they are irreversible.
  • Hypertension – This condition concerns me because its silent. Patients don’t usually experience symptoms and if left untreated its consequences can be serious. It’s important for people to be screened for high blood pressure at their annual check-up.

Not long ago, patients were diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension when they were 50- or 60-years old. Today, it’s not unusual for a patient to be diagnosed at 30- or 40-years old.

What are the most common causes of diabetes and hypertension?
Genetics and family history play a huge part in Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. However, diet, activity level, lifestyle and how well a patient prioritizes their overall well-being also play a part. It’s important to keep in mind that leaving these conditions untreated can lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious complications.

How can people manage these conditions?
Everyone should see their primary care provider as least annually and be screened. Successful treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications or a combination of both. I encourage patients to modify risk factors they can control including eating better, maintaining a healthy weight, minimizing alcohol consumption and finding ways to manage stress.

What is one of your greatest strengths?
I’m a huge advocate of evidence-based medicine and I very closely follow data and recommendations from the American Academy of Family Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association and New England Journal of Medicine – and readily share that information with patients. I also enjoy connecting with my patients. I genuinely want to know what’s happening in their lives because it may impact how I care for them.

On a personal note, I grew up with three grandparents and a great grandparent in my household. My family members and I were always encouraging them to take good care of themselves. I find that when my patients are educated and empowered, they do better.

 To learn more about Dr. Malipeddi, please click here. To learn more about St. Joseph Hospital Family Medicine & Specialty Services – Merrimack click here.



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