U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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.


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. 


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.    

T​est Result​/Date Result/Date Result/Date Result/Date
Bl​ood pressure
Goal: Less than ___/___

Goal: Keep from going down

Urine Albumin
Goal: The lower the be​tter

A1C (for people with diabetes)

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

Additional Reading


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.

​​September 17, 2014​​


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