5 Numbers Essential to Your Kidney Health

August 13, 2013
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kidney diseaseToday 26 million Americans are living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), and seniors are especially at risk.  According to the CDC, nearly 45% of persons living with chronic kidney disease are age 65 and over.

kidney diseaseToday 26 million Americans are living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), and seniors are especially at risk.  According to the CDC, nearly 45% of persons living with chronic kidney disease are age 65 and over.

Chronic kidney disease occurs when kidney damage prevents the body from filtering blood optimally. When waste builds up in the body, it causes a cascade of health problems including cardiovascular disease, weak bones, anemia, and nerve damage. Sadly, early symptoms – including dizziness, stomach sickness, foot swelling, and back pain– are often overlooked and left untreated for a long time. Eventually, the disease may lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis treatment or a transplant in order to maintain life.

When it comes to preventing kidney disease, a simple set of tests and a trip to your doctor can save your life. With early detection, kidney disease can be treated through medication and lifestyle changes to slow down the progression of damage.

To help you decipher your test results and cut through medical-ese, here are the 5 must-know numbers essential to kidney health:

  • Estimated GFR number – The estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) is the most useful indicator of your kidney health. This test assesses the total blood filtered through the kidneys each minute. Healthy kidneys typically filter 90ml to 120ml every minute, but a score of 60ml/min is considered normal according to the National Kidney Foundation. Under 60, talk to your doctor.
  • Urine Albumin to Creatinine Ratio  – Your UACR is a key measure of kidney disease that tests the amount of protein found in your urine each day. If the kidneys are healthy, they are able to filter waste from blood and hold on to healthy albumin proteins. Damaged kidneys, however, cause proteins to leak through and leave blood in the urine. Kidney disease may be present when UACR is greater than 30 mg/g.
  • Blood Pressure Reading  – More than 20% of adults with high blood pressure have chronic kidney disease. Uncontrolled blood pressure, in which the pressure of blood against the blood vessels, can cause kidney disease. Conversely, kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels increases. If your blood pressure is too high, you may be at increased risk for developing CFD.
  • Cholesterol – Kidney disease increases your chance of having heart disease. In fact, heart disease is a major cause of death for people with CFD. If your cholesterol is over 200, you may be at risk for heart disease.
  • Blood Glucose Levels – Do you have diabetes? Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. High blood sugar can result in damage to many of the body’s organs including the kidneys. A normal fasting blood glucose range for an individual without diabetes is 70-100 mg/dL (3.9-5.6 mmol/L).
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While these tests and measures can be enormously helpful in evaluating your kidney health, do not forget the role genetics plays in the equation. Has a close relative – your mother, father, or sibling – had kidney disease? The condition runs in families, so be sure to take extra precaution if you have a family history of CKD.