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Understanding GFR

GFR stands for glomerular (glow-MAIR-you-lure) filtration rate. A blood test checks your GFR, which tells how well your kidneys are filtering.

It's important to know your GFR if you are at risk for kidney disease. A urine test will also be used to check your kidneys.

GFR is reported as a number.

  • A GFR of 60 or higher is in the normal range.
  • A GFR below 60 may mean you have kidney disease.
  • A GFR of 15 or lower may mean kidney failure.

You can't raise your GFR, but you can try to keep it from going lower. Learn more about what you can do to keep your kidneys healthy.

The graphic below can help you understand the meaning of your GFR result. Please remember that this information should not take the place of talking with your health care provider.

Dial graphic to help explain GFR test results 

If you have a:

GFR of 60 or higher*: Your kidney function is in the normal range. Ask your provider when your GFR should be checked again. You still need to get your urine checked for kidney damage.

* If your lab report shows an actual number that is higher than 60, such as 75, 90, 100, consider your result as "60 or higher" and in the normal range.

GFR below 60: This may mean kidney disease. Talk to your provider about treatment to keep your kidney health at this level. Ask about: 

  • medicines you should take,
  • medicines to stay away from,
  • changes to your diet,
  • other lifestyle changes,
  • whether your kidney disease is likely to get worse,
  • ways to treat kidney failure, and
  • if you should begin preparing for dialysis.​

A doctor and spouse listens to a patient speak.

GFR of 15 or lower: This is usually referred to as kidney failure. Most people at this point may need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Talk to your provider about your treatment options.

A note about calculating GFR

If the lab doesn't list your GFR, your provider can get it by entering your serum creatinine result into our GFR calculators. If you have your serum creatinine result and choose to calculate the GFR on your own, please make sure you talk with your provider about the result.​

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.

March 1, 2012

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