According to the National Kidney Foundation, 26 million Americans are living with chronic kidney disease and millions more are at risk. Individuals most at risk for kidney disease include those with diabetes, high blood pressure or family history of kidney disease. Because a person can have kidney disease and not have any symptoms, regular kidney health screenings are important. In order to screen for kidney disease, the National Kidney Foundation recommends measuring blood pressure, urine protein and Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR).
Blood pressure is expressed as two numbers, with normal blood pressure stated as 120/80 (120 over 80). The top number, the systolic pressure, is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is beating. The bottom number, the diastolic pressure, is the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is at rest (between beats). Anyone with blood pressure of 140/90 or higher has high blood pressure and is at increased risk for kidney disease.
Healthy kidneys remove waste from the blood and leave the protein behind. As kidney function begins to deteriorate, small amounts of a protein called albumin may leach into the urine. As kidney function worsens, the amount of albumin and other proteins in the urine increases.
Creatinine is a waste product in the blood produced by the breakdown of muscle tissue during normal activity. Healthy kidneys remove creatinine from the blood. When kidneys are not functioning properly, excess creatinine builds up in the bloodstream.
Doctors can test for excess protein in the doctor’s office using a small sample of urine and a dipstick. If results indicate there may be excess protein in the urine, they may then send a urine sample to the laboratory for further testing. The following are two of the most common lab tests:
- Albumin-to-creatinine ratio is used to screen those most at risk for kidney disease. A value higher than 30 mg/gm is an indication that kidney disease may be present.
- Protein-to-creatinine ratio is the most accurate way to measure protein in the urine. A value higher than 200mg/gm is an indication of kidney disease.
Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)
The GFR is a calculation designed to measure how efficiently the kidneys are filtering waste. It is based upon the amount of creatinine measured in the blood as well as the age, gender and race of the person being tested. A GFR less than 60 may be a sign that renal function is impaired.
While kidney damage is not reversible, early detection and treatment may help slow down the disease and prevent complications. At Schmidt Kramer, we work with kidney dialysis patients injured due to a recent recall of two hemodialysis products—GranuFlo and NaturaLyte. These products are manufactured and distributed by Fresenius Medical Care North America. The recall occurred because product labeling was misleading and had the potential to cause fatal dosage problems. If you or a loved one received a hemodialysis treatment using one of these products between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2012, and suffered a heart attack during or shortly afterwards, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a York Fresenius kidney dialysis attorney at 888-476-0807 for more information.