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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Improving the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease.

Monitoring Your Kidney Health

Many people with kidney disease don't have symptoms until their kidney damage is very advanced. For most people, the only way to know about your kidney health is through blood and urine tests. The blood test checks your GFR and the urine test checks for albumin. These two tests are also used to follow the progression of your kidney disease.

Know your GFR and urine test results. Keep track of them over time to see how your kidneys are doing. Kidney disease tends to get worse over time. Each time you get checked, ask how the results compare to the last results.

The key tests to track kidney health include:

Blood pressure

The most important thing you can do to slow down kidney disease is keep your blood pressure at or below the target set by your health care provider. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg. This may delay or prevent kidney failure.

GFR

The GFR tells you how well your kidneys are filtering blood. GFR stands for glomerular filtration rate. You can't raise your GFR. The goal is to keep your GFR from going down to prevent or delay kidney failure.

A graphic of a speedometer-like dial that depicts GFR results of 0 to 15 as kidney failure, 15 to 60 as kidney disease, and 60 to 120 as normal.

Urine albumin

Albumin is a protein in your blood that can pass into the urine when kidneys are damaged. You can't undo kidney damage, but you may be able to lower the amount of albumin in your urine with treatment. Lowering your urine albumin is good for your kidneys.

A diagram illustrating a healthy kidney with albumin only found in blood, and a damaged kidney that has albumin in both blood and urine.

A1C

For people with diabetes: A1C test is a test that shows the average blood glucose level over the last 3 months. Lowering your A1C can help you to stay healthy.

Test Result/Date Result/Date Result/Date Result/Date
Blood pressure
Goal: Less than ___/___
       
GFR
Goal: Keep from going down
       
Urine Albumin
Goal: The lower the better
       
A1C (for people with diabetes)
Goal:
       

Other tests can also be used to monitor kidney health. Bring Your Kidney Test Results worksheet to your next visit.

  • An image of a health professional speaking with a man and woman

    Getting Test Results?

    Use this list of questions to talk with your provider about your kidney health.

Page last updated: September 17, 2014