top of page

Beyond the Numbers: What Your eGFR Score Really Means

What is eGFR and How is it Tested?

Have you ever heard of eGFR when getting a blood test done for your kidney function? Do you know what it is and why it matters? If not, don't worry - this blog post will provide all the answers!


What is eGFR?


eGFR, or Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate, is a powerful tool that evaluates the effectiveness of your kidneys in clearing out waste products from your blood. This test provides an accurate estimate of how much fluid passes through the glomeruli - mini filtration organs located in each kidney - every minute. By determining eGFR levels, healthcare providers can diagnose and effectively monitor Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).


eGFR (ml/min/1.73m²)

Kidney Function

>90

Normal kidney function

60-89

Mildly decreased kidney function

45-59

Mild to moderate decreased kidney function

30-44

Moderate to severely decreased kidney function

15-29

Severely decreased kidney function

<15

Kidney failure

How is eGFR Calculated?

To determine your eGFR, a mathematical equation has been designed to evaluate age, ethnicity, gender, and creatinine level (a by-product produced from muscular activity and cleared out of the bloodstream via kidneys). The most famous formula used is called Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) calculation.




What Factors Affect eGFR?


Several factors can affect eGFR results, including:


  1. Age: As you get older, your eGFR may decrease, even if your kidney function is normal.

  2. Sex: Women tend to have slightly lower eGFR values than men.

  3. Race: eGFR values may differ slightly between people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. For example, African Americans tend to have higher creatinine levels than people of other races, even when kidney function is the same.

  4. Muscle Mass: People with more muscle mass tend to have higher creatinine levels, which can affect eGFR calculations.

  5. Medications: Some medications can affect creatinine levels and eGFR calculations. If you're taking any medications, it's important to let your healthcare provider know before you have an eGFR test.

  6. Dehydration: Dehydration can cause your creatinine levels to rise, which can affect your eGFR result. It's important to stay hydrated before having an eGFR test.



How is eGFR Tested?


Obtaining your eGFR is much easier than you may think. All that's required is a straightforward blood test. Your medical practitioner will draw the sample and forward it off to a lab for analysis, presenting back an eGFR value written as mL/min/1.73m2 - all expressed in milliliters per minute per 1.73 square meters of body surface area!


What Do eGFR Results Mean?


Your eGFR result should be considered together with other medical aspects, such as your age, sex, race and prior health conditions. Generally speaking, an eGFR of 60 mL/min/1.73m2 or higher is the accepted standard for a healthy individual; however, if it falls below this level it may suggest kidney damage or chronic kidney disease (CKD).


It is critical to bear in mind that a single eGFR measurement isn't sufficient to diagnose kidney disease. To get an accurate assessment of your overall kidney health, you must have multiple eGFR measurements over time. In addition, your healthcare provider might request other tests such as urine analysis or kidney imaging for further diagnosis and monitoring of the condition.


How Can You Improve Your Kidney Function?


If you're worried about your renal health, there are a variety of simple lifestyle alterations that can enrich kidney function. Here's how:


  1. Managing blood pressure and blood sugar levels: High blood pressure and high blood sugar can damage your kidneys over time. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage these

  2. Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of kidney disease. Aim for a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

  3. Quitting smoking: Smoking can damage blood vessels and increase your risk of kidney disease. If you smoke, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit.

  4. Limiting alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can damage your kidneys over time. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation.

  5. Managing other health conditions: Conditions like heart disease and diabetes can affect your kidney function. Work with your healthcare provider to manage these conditions and protect your kidneys.

  6. Staying hydrated: Drinking enough water can help keep your kidneys functioning properly. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day, or more if you're physically active or live in a hot climate.



When Should You Get an eGFR Test?


If you have any risk factors for kidney disease, such as high blood pressure or a family history of the condition, your healthcare provider may suggest an eGFR test. Likewise, they might order one if you are experiencing tell-tale signs of this illness - from fatigue and swelling to changes in urination patterns.


If you have CKD, your healthcare provider will monitor your eGFR regularly to track the progression of the disease and adjust your treatment plan as needed.


Conclusion


eGFR is an invaluable tool for keeping tabs on your kidney health as well as diagnosing any potential issues. Once you become familiar with the test, its procedure, and what factors can potentially impact results, you will be able to take action towards protecting your kidney function while enhancing your overall well-being. If there are worries regarding your renal health, consult with a medical professional about getting an eGFR analysis and ways of improving kidney performance.


Now that you understand eGFR learn about the stages of kidney disease


The information provided on kidneyconversations.info is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.


Citations


1. National Kidney Foundation. (2020). Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR). Retrieved from https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/estimated-glomerular-filtration-rate


2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021). Chronic kidney disease: Diagnosis and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-kidney-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354521


3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2021). Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) CKD Work Group. Retrieved from https://kdigo.org/about-us/our-work/ckd


4. Whelton, P., Carey, R., Aronow, W., Casey, D., Collins, K., Dennison, H., et al. (2017). 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology Organization. Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYP.0000000000000066


5. Bartels, N., & van den Dorpel, M. (2020). Chronic Kidney Disease Diagnosis and Management: A Review. BioMed Research International, 2020(1), 1-14. doi: 10.1155/2020/8023576


6. Hwang, S., & Chang Y. (2012). Clinical Practice Guidelines: Evaluation and Management of Chronic Kidney Disease. The Korean Journal of Internal Medicine, 27(1), 9-21. doi: 10.3904/kjim.2012.27.1.9


7. Kasiske, B., & Snyder Schwartz, J. (2013). American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative: CKD Definitions Update from 2012 to 2013 – Implications for Incidence Estimates in the United States and Canada. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, 61(4), 602-611. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2012..098


8. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2020). Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/RethinkingDrinking/Rethink_Chapt1.htm


9. World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Health Evidence Network Synthesis report on “Prevention of Chronic Kidney Disease” (2004). Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/109537/E85824.pdf


10. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2021). What Is CKD? Retrieved fromhttps://www2.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/what-is-ckd.html.






38 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page