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Dr. Chris Gisler

Washington Health System Offers Comprehensive Care of Kidney Disease
By Daniel Casciato


There are two reasons why Dr. Chris Gisler became a nephrologist—the opportunity to take care of sick people with kidney disease in the hospital as well as the opportunity to cultivate a long-term relationship with chronic kidney disease and dialysis patients.

“You get to know them over the years and find out what’s going on in their life so you can treat them well and do what’s best for them,” says Dr. Gisler, who joined Washington Health System Nephrology in March.

Role of a Nephrologist
As a nephrologist, Dr. Gisler explains his main goal is to monitor the function of a patient’s kidneys and to work with them to keep their kidneys healthy.

“We really strive to keep the patients off of dialysis,” he says. “But ultimately for some patients when their kidneys shut down, they require dialysis which we provide for them too. Overall, we focus on kidney health and look at different diseases that affect the kidneys such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

In addition to working with patients, nephrologists also work with other doctors to treat diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure to ultimately protect their patient’s kidneys and prevent dialysis.

Kidney Disease and Lifestyle Modifications
For patients who have early stage kidney disease, Dr. Gisler recommends a low-sodium diet to help control their blood pressure.

“We also recommend if they are diabetic to be on a diabetic diet—low sugar and low carbohydrates—and pay close attention to their blood sugar levels,” he says. “As their kidney disease progresses and their kidneys aren’t as good at filtering some of the other electrolytes in the foods they eat, we will modify their diet.”

Besides diet modification, a healthy lifestyle is important.

"Medications are sometimes needed to control other medical problems that are destroying your kidneys,” says Dr. Gisler. “Leading a more healthy lifestyle is something I like to focus on instead of using medication. I want to increase your physical activity and see you make dietary changes so we can minimize medication and treat your kidney through these lifestyle changes.”

Symptoms to Look For
Some patients have underlying genetic diseased that will affect the kidneys. If you have a family history, you need to be screened, says Dr. Gisler.

“Also, some medications can cause kidney disease,” he adds. “If you’re on medication, and are diabetic or have hypertension, you need to be checked to make sure that medicine will not cause additional damage to your kidneys.”

Some symptoms of a failing kidney include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Itching
  5. Swelling in your legs

“Many of these symptoms are the buildup of toxins because the kidney is not cleaning the blood appropriately,” says Dr. Gisler.

Also, people do not notice they have problems with their kidneys until their function is less than 30%, adds Dr. Gisler.  “Some people who have kidney disease do not even know it until the kidney function falls below that 30% threshold.”

Finally, Dr. Gisler notes that patients need to take ownership of their kidneys and know how well their kidneys are functioning.

“You can be proactive in taking care of your kidneys,” he says. “If you find you have a kidney disease get a good nephrologist to preserve your kidneys.”

For more information on Washington Health System Nephrology, visit http://washingtonphysicians.org/practices/specialists/nephrology/



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