Q. How important is my Primary Care Physician when it comes to treating my high blood pressure and/or my diabetes? What about specialists for those conditions?
A. Hypertension and diabetes are both serious medical conditions that can have a devastating effect on your overall health and quality of life. The presence of either condition can prove especially dangerous to the overall health and function of the kidneys.
Primary Care physicians are on the front lines when it comes to diagnosing and helping treat hypertension and diabetes. Primary physicians tend to know the details of their patients’ lifestyles and see trends and changes that may happen over time. A patient’s woozy spell could simply be a product of standing up from the recliner too quickly, while another’s may give clear hints of a problem with high blood pressure. One patient may be thirsty all the time because he or she simply is not drinking enough water. Another patient with the same symptom could very easily be exhibiting symptoms of prediabetes.
One of the first steps a primary physician will want to take will be a close evaluation of their patients’ medications. With so many medications available that treat such a wide variety of diseases and conditions, it is no stretch of the imagination to realize that complications can and do occur. Diabetics could be taking certain drugs to help with their condition. Yet, if they are unfortunate enough to have hypertension combined with diabetes, one medication that does wonders for its prescribed use may react negatively to the meds prescribed for the other. At the least, canceling one medication’s effectiveness. At worst, creating a life-threatening drug interaction.
Now, add in the medications that may be necessary for the onset of kidney disease—often a byproduct of either previous condition—and it rapidly becomes clear how one physician in charge of a patient’s entire health picture plays a vital role.
Something else to consider: everyone is an individual. One patient’s blood pressure readings and blood sugar levels may be wildly different from another—yet, both may still fit what is often accepted as “the norm.” Primary care physicians are simplify best qualified to know what readings are best for each of their individual patients and how to treat them accordingly.
There may very well come times when a primary care physician will want to consult with other medical experts. He or she may suggest a specialist for more focused expertise on a specific condition. A cardiologist for heart questions, a nephrologist for kidneys, perhaps even a surgeon for some interventional repair. In that situation, the primary physician will still function as a medical “field general” now directing an entire team of medical specialists whose sole focus is delivering on the broad spectrum of care necessary to improve a patient’s opportunity for a good outcome.