Top 3 Tests for Kidney Health
Quite often in nature, good things come in pairs. Even the kidneys come as a dynamic anatomical duo; but interestingly, people can live with only one-but it?s best to avoid splitting up this pair, and the only way to do that is by taking good care of your health, especially while you have good health, and both kidneys.
The common kidney bean gets its name from its resemblance in shape and color to a kidney. These bean shaped organs are strategically placed in the abdominal cavity, more toward the back than the front; one k7yuidney on each side of the spine. The right kidney rests just below the diaphragm, and is slightly lower than the left kidney, to accommodate the liver. On top of each kidney sits an adrenal gland.
Our kidneys are engineered to receive blood from the renal arteries, both left and right, which branch directly from the abdominal aorta. Even though kidneys are relatively small in size, they receive about 20% of the cardiac output. Excess waste and water from our blood are eliminated through the kidneys, producing urine in the process. They perform the vital role of filtering toxins and drugs out of your bloodstream; they regulate the amount of water in your skin and body and modulate the levels of potassium, calcium, sodium and phosphorus. Kidneys also release hormones to help balance blood pressure, strengthen bones and create blood cells. A disease or dysfunction of the kidneys can cause osteoporosis, nerve damage, high blood pressure, nutritional problems and cardiovascular disease. When untreated, kidney disease can eventually lead to death or the need for dialysis.
Kidney disease and kidney transplants are unfortunately very common (approximately 10,000 to 15,000 Americans receive kidney transplants each year). But unlike the case with most other organs, we are born with an overly abundant kidney capacity-a single kidney with only 75 percent of its functional capacity can sustain life very well. More than 26 million Americans-one in nine adults-have kidney disease. Millions more are at increased risk for getting it, and most don't know it. Kidney disease can be found and treated early to prevent more serious kidney disease and other complications.
Hopefully, with good health care, we can maintain both our kidneys for our entire lifetime. There are steps you can take to ensure you are being proactive in maintaining optimum kidney health. For example, taking all natural kidney supplements that include herbs for kidney health is a great way to take action against kidney disease.
Here are the three simple tests recommended by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to check for kidney disease:
- A blood pressure test
- A urine test called a micro albuminuria test
- A Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) test
High blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney disease. High blood pressure may also happen as a result of kidney disease. A blood pressure of 140/90 or higher is called high blood pressure. If you have diabetes or kidney disease a target less than 130/80 is recommended. Keeping blood pressure under control is important to lower risk of kidney disease, heart and blood vessel disease, and stroke.
A urinalysis is a test that checks a sample of your urine for the amount of protein, blood (red blood cells and white blood cells) and other things. Protein and red and white blood cells are not normally found in the urine, so having too much of any of these may mean kidney disease. Having protein in the urine is one of the earliest signs of kidney disease especially in people with diabetes. Several other tests can be done to check for protein in urine. One of the tests is called the protein to creatinine ratio. It is the most accurate way to measure protein in the urine. A value of 200 mg/gm or less per day is normal. A value higher than 200 mg/gm is too high. Another test, called the albumin to creatinine ratio, is good for people at increased risk for kidney disease - people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney failure. A value of less than 30 mg/gm per day is normal for the albumin to creatinine ratio; a value of 30 mg/gm per day or higher is high and may be a sign of early kidney disease. With either of these tests, you don't need to collect a 24-hour urine sample, which may be hard to collect.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
GFR is estimated from results of a serum (or blood) creatinine test. The GFR tells how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from your blood. It is the best way to check kidney function. A serum (or blood) creatinine test alone should not be used to check kidney function. GFR is calculated using the serum creatinine and other factors such as age and gender. In the early stages of kidney disease GFR may be normal. A value of 60 or higher is normal (GFR decreases with age). A GFR number of less than 60 is low and may mean that you have kidney disease. Check with your doctor about having the GFR test. If you are at increased risk for kidney disease (have diabetes, high blood pressure, or family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or kidney failure), you should find out if you have kidney disease.
The National Kidney Foundation recommends that you ask your doctor about these three simple tests. They should be done at least once a year so that if you have early kidney disease, it can be treated right away. Early kidney disease can and should be treated to keep it from getting worse. You can also ask your doctor about supplements for kidney health.
Substances that are especially harmful to kidney function include: alcohol, hydrogenated oils, refined salt and sugar, additives, preservatives, milk containing hormones and soda. You should also avoid tobacco, antibiotics and fruits and vegetables grown with pesticides.