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What Is Glomerular Filtration Rate?

The information provided herein does not constitute an expert or medical advice, nor intended to replace such advice.

Health and Wellness

Your kidneys are constantly working to filter blood and remove waste products. Your kidneys also remove fluid from your blood vessels, and they produce urine during this process. Kidney function is very important for your overall health. 

Glomerular filtration rate, also known as GFR, is a measurement that can be used to determine your kidney function. This can be especially helpful if you’re at high risk of kidney disease. Read on to learn more about the meaning of GFR.

What is GFR?

Glomerular filtration rate is a measure of your kidney function. According to the National Kidney Foundation, your GFR equals the total filtration rate of the nephrons in your kidneys. The nephrons are tiny filtering units located inside your kidneys.

There are millions of nephrons in each of your kidneys, and they work continuously to get rid of waste and filter fluids in your blood. Each nephron has a glomerulus, which is a small network of blood vessels that filter blood. According to the Cleveland Clinic, GFR measures how much blood is filtered by your glomeruli every minute, in relation to your total body size.

A decreased glomerular filtration rate can indicate that your kidneys aren’t working properly. This can be caused by different conditions.

What is the normal range for glomerular filtration rate?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, your GFR results can be interpreted as follows:

  • GFR >60: normal GFR levels
  • GFR <60: could indicate kidney disease
  • GFR <15: could indicate kidney failure

What does it mean when your GFR is low?

If your GFR isn’t in the normal range, it could indicate that something is wrong with your kidney function. There are many possible low GFR and kidney disease causes.

Low levels of GFR for 3 or more months can be a sign of chronic kidney disease. Diagnosing kidney disease is important, since early treatment can help prevent kidney function and improve your prognosis.

Causes of low GFR

Certain conditions can increase your risk of kidney disease and abnormal GFR results. These conditions include:

  • Anatomical kidney defects
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of kidney disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart disease
  • History of smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) test

A glomerular filtration test can be used to determine how well your kidneys are working. According to MedlinePlus, a blood sample is used to carry out a GFR test. This blood sample is tested to determine your creatinine levels; creatinine is a chemical waste product that can be found in your blood.

In some cases, you may be asked to stop taking certain treatments before your GFR test.Your healthcare provider will be able to explain how you need to prepare for this test.

Different formulas are used to determine your GFR based on your creatinine levels. Other factors are taken into consideration, including your age, gender, height, weight, and ethnicity. If your GFR results are low, your doctor may order additional tests to determine the cause of the problem.

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GFR - kidney.org

Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) - my.clevelandclinic.org

Explaining Your Kidney Test Results: A Tool for Clinical Use - niddk.nih.gov

Glomerular filtration rate - medlineplus.gov

Dr. Andrea Pinto Lopez

Dr. Andrea Pinto Lopez

Sep 19, 2022

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