Did you know that your kidneys are two of your hardest working vital organs that keep your whole system in balance? March is National Kidney Month, and Westmed wants to bring these small bean-shaped organs into the limelight. They regulate fluid levels, filter wastes from the blood, direct production of red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, activate Vitamin D for healthy bones and keep blood minerals in balance.
“Thirty-one million people in the U.S. have kidney disease,” says Dr. Anthony Korosi, one of Westmed’s nephrologists who specialize in kidney care and treating diseases of the kidneys. “The patients seen in our practice cover the whole spectrum of renal disease from age 16 and up, as well as renal disease and hypertension in pregnancy.”
Westmed nephrologists provide patient care in all aspects of kidney disease evaluation and management, including:
- Non-surgical management and prevention of kidney stone disease
- Kidney failure (also called renal failure)
- Pre- and post-transplant care and
Risk factors for the kidneys are diabetes, high blood pressure, being over 60 years of age and family history of kidney disease. You may be wondering how hypertension relates to kidney health. Dr. Korosi explains that the kidneys “are as sensitive to high blood pressure as the heart, and can suffer severe damage if the condition is not treated.”
He says further, “Kidney disease can show few signs or symptoms until it is advanced, and that can be dangerous. When the kidneys don’t work properly, the necessary treatment causes a lifestyle change.”
Preventing Kidney Disease:
Like many diseases, prevention of kidney disease is the key. And Westmed nephrologists rely on these tests to monitor kidney health:
- The GFR Test: “There is another number to know when you have your blood chemistry test for a physical, and it’s as important for health as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar readings,” said Dr. Iosif Kolbovsky. This one, known as the GFR (glomerular filtration rate), tells how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from your blood. If the GFR is abnormal, it’s an indicator of mild, moderate or severe kidney damage. Therefore, a low GFR is a red flag prompting a timely referral to a nephrologist.
- A test for the Urine Albumin-to-Creatinine Ratio estimates the amount of a type of protein—albumin—that you excrete in your urine, and a high level likely to be an indicator of kidney disease.
When Kidney Disease is Advanced:
Patients with very advanced kidney failure will often need to receive treatment for the rest of their lives. The basic treatments are dialysis or a kidney transplant, “and patients can learn to cope with either one—even continuing to work,” the doctors explain.
During dialysis, a machine replaces the work of the kidneys to clear wastes and extra fluid from the blood. To get access to the bloodstream, “a vascular surgeon does surgery to create an access point, called a fistula, in the arm,” said Dr. Korosi. The dialysis procedure takes three to four hours, and most people have dialysis treatments three times a week.
Acute dialysis services are performed at both White Plains Hospital and Greenwich Hospital, and on an outpatient basis at local dialysis centers. Westmed attends dialysis clinics in Port Chester, White Plains, Yonkers, Elmsford and Stamford. Dr. Iosif Kolbovsky is the medical director of the Port Chester Dialysis and Renal Center, and Dr. Korosi is the medical director of the White Plains Dialysis Center. At the dialysis centers, nurses and technicians are present to perform the tasks that are needed during treatment. The doctors oversee the treatment and any medications that the patients need during their dialysis visits. Social workers help with any non-medical concerns they have, such as helping with transportation and health insurance details. A dietitian is on staff to address all the nutritional restrictions required of dialysis patients.
The nephrologists at Westmed can also offer two options of home dialysis to patients whom they feel can learn the procedures or who have a “care partner” (a spouse, domestic partner or other family member who can be trained to assist) and who can make the commitment to home care.
“We use a small, portable machine,” said Dr. Marianne Monahan, who is in charge of the White Plains Home Dialysis program. Patients and their care partners “must commit to intense daily training sessions for one month, actually doing the dialysis,” she said. Once mastered, it gives patients more flexibility.
An option called “Peritoneal Dialysis” does not require a partner. The dialysis center provides training, and the physicians oversee the treatments.
For more information about Westmed’s nephrology services and the providers, please go to https://www.westmedgroup.com/services/nephrology/overview