Thursday, August 28, 2008

Do you know your GFR?

…The New York Times “Well” blog had a riproarer about how you should always call your doctor and get test results if you are not contacted. Many docs don’t even give out positive (meaning potentially bad) results.

…Apparently, according to some practitioners, they order the tests, then the results fly into a storm of paper that may or may not be nailed down and read.

…Mary Beth Fuller (AZ Republic, Aug 26, 2008) says one common test result is as important to know as your cholesterol readings.

…It’s called your GFR—glomerular filtration rate. It measures how well your kidneys are functioning.

…26 million Americans have some stage of chronic kidney disease and don’t know it. At most risk are people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history. African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics also have an increased risk.

…Kidneys are packed with half a million filter units called glomeruli. Blood flows in, waste is filtered out and then excreted as urine.

…The GFR is how much blood is being filtered per minute. Normally, this is 85 to 125 cubic centimeters. Around 100 is good.

…Under 60, and you might have anemia or bone disease. Under 20, bad news and you need treatment to slow the disease.

…If you are 50 to 60, you are nowhere near needed dialysis—with health care and lifestyle changes you may never get to the bad stage.

…The problem is—at 50 you could feel fine.

…By knowing your GFR you can get into a chronic kidney disease program and stave off the worst.

…Ask your doctor? Are you getting a GFR test? What does it mean?

…Hey, we all have to be half-vast docs now, right?

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