Ratio: Is That Like Rationing?

urine containerA friend called me Friday night wondering what her creatinine/albumin ratio meant since that reading was high on her last blood draw. Actually, she wanted to know if this was something to worry about. After extracting a promise that she would call her doctor with her questions today when her physician’s office opened for business again, I gave her some explanations. Of course, then I wanted to give you the same explanations.

Although the Online Etymology Dictionary tells us both ratio and rationing are derived from the same Latin root – ratio – which means “reckoning, calculation; business affair, procedure,” also “reason, reasoning, judgment, understanding,” they aren’t exactly the same. My old favorite, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ratio at dictionaryhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ratio in the following way: the relationship in quantity, amount, or size between two or more things, as in that of your creatinine and albumin.

As for rationing, if you’re old enough to remember World War II, you know what it means. If you’re not, the same dictionary can help us out again. At https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rationing, we’re told it’s “a share especially as determined by supply.” Nope, doesn’t work here since we’re not sharing our creatinine or albumin with anyone else. We each have our own supply in our own ratios, albeit sometimes too high or sometimes too low.

What are creatinine and albumin anyway? Let’s see what we can find about creatinine in What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease.

“Additional important jobs of the kidneys are removing liquid waste from your body and balancing the minerals in the body. The two liquid waste products are urea which has been broken down from protein by the digestive system and creatinine which is a byproduct of muscle activity.”

Well, what about albumin? This can get a bit complicated. Remember, the UACR (Hang on, explanation of this coming soon.) deals with urine albumin. There’s an explanation in SlowItDownCKD  2016 about what it’s not: serum albumin.

“Maybe we should take a look at serum albumin level. Serum means it’s the clear part of your blood, the part without red or white blood cells. This much is fairly common knowledge. Albumin is not. Medlineplus, part of The National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003480.htm tells us, ‘Albumin is a protein made by the liver. A serum albumin test measures the amount of this protein in the clear liquid portion of the blood.’ Uh-oh, this is also not good: a high level of serum albumin indicates progression of your kidney disease. Conversely, kidney disease can cause a high level of serum albumin.”

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This is from SlowItDownCKD 2015 and explains what the UACR is and why your albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UAC R) is important:

In recent years, researchers have found that a single urine sample can provide the needed information. In the newer technique, the amount of albumin in the urine sample is compared with the amount of creatinine, a waste product of normal muscle breakdown. The measurement is called a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR). A urine sample containing more than 30 milligrams of albumin for each gram of creatinine (30 mg/g) is a warning that there may be a problem. If the laboratory test exceeds 30 mg/g, another UACR test should be done 1 to 2 weeks later. If the second test also shows high levels of protein, the person has persistent proteinuria, a sign of declining kidney function, and should have additional tests to evaluate kidney function.

Thank you to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse , a service of the NIH, at http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/proteinuria/#tests for that information.”

Basically, that means if you have a high UACR once, get your urine retested a week or two later before you even think about worrying, which is what my friend’s doctor confirmed. But do make sure to get that second test so you can be certain your kidney function is not being compromised.

I was thrilled that both my paper and notes from the field about Chronic Kidney Disease Awareness were accepted for Landmark’s Journal for the  Conference for Global Transformation AND then be able to Journal for the Conference for Global Transformationpresent a poster about it during the conference this past weekend. In addition I was lucky enough to have lunch with one of the keynote speakers. Who, you ask? Amy D. Waterman, Ph.D.

This is one important person to us. She has changed the face of pre dialysis and transplant education globally by starting “an educational nonprofit corporation and has been awarded more than $20 million in grants…she has reached tens of thousands of people to date, educating them in the miracle of live organ donation. Last year, Dr. Waterman was invited to the White House to share about the possibility of ending the organ donor shortage.” This material is from the Journal of the 2017 Conference for Global Transformation, Volume 17, No. 1.

This is exactly what we need to do for early and moderate stage CKD. This is what the social media presence, the blogs, and the books are about. And you know what? That’s just.plain.not.enough. Last I heard, I have 107,000 readers in 106 countries. And you know what? That’s just.plain.not.enough. Am I greedy? Absolutely when it comes to sharing awareness of CKD. Do I know how to expand my coverage? Nope…not yet, that is. I am so very open to suggestions? Let me hear them!

K.E.E.P.Lest we forget, this year’s first Path of Wellness Screening will be Saturday, June 17th at the Indo American Cultural Center’s community hall, 2809 W. Maryland Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85017. As they’ve stated, “The free screening events can process up to 200 people.  Their use of point-of-care testing devices provides blood and urine test results in a matter of minutes, which are reviewed onsite by volunteer physicians.  All screening participants are offered free enrollment in chronic disease self-management workshops.  Help is also given to connect participants with primary care resources.  The goals of PTW are to improve early identification of at-risk people, facilitate their connection to health care resources, and slow the progression of chronic diseases in order to reduce heart failure, kidney failure and the need for dialysis.”

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

 

None of This Matters

Household tips I have learned via prepping the house for the wedding:                                                                 IMAG0208

1. Contact paper works well on bathroom windows for privacy.
2. Adhesive white board paper makes a good privacy screen on the shower door.
3. Trees and bushes cut back due to frost damage do grow back quickly.
4. Things break at the absolutely worst time: dishwasher, solar water heating panel, a/c.
5. None of this matters.

The most important one is #5.  We are preparing for one of the most special days for us – our wedding – and we’ll be married whether we discovered these things or not.

But I may not have been here for my wedding day if my Chronic Kidney Disease had not been discovered.  Once it was, I was given the tools to retard its progression and seemingly reverse it at times.

An even earlier discovery of my ckd would probably have been better. Okay, so I was seeing a Physician’s Assistant who wasn’t all that astute.  The readings were right there in my blood tests almost a year before I changed to a primary care doctor who actually cared.  I really liked the P.A. who had been taking care of me, but learned that liking a person doesn’t necessarily mean she is a good medical practitioner.

There are so many ifs here: If I had known earlier, could I have made sure my eGFR (estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate) didn’t dip as low as it was when I was finally diagnosed? If I had been seeing a doctor rather than a P.A. would she have caught the ckd earlier?  If the blood tests had been read carefully, would I have had the opportunity to get to work on preventing rapid progression in the decline of my kidneys?glomerulus

I will never know the answers to those questions, so – as #5 says – none of this matters … for me.  For you?  That’s another story.

Have you ever heard of KEEP?  That’s the Kidney Early Evaluation Program.  Notice the word ‘Early’ in the title. With ckd, the earlier you can detect the disease, the better. According to the National Kidney Foundation:

                            The goals of KEEP are to:

  • Raise awareness about kidney disease especially among “high risk” individuals
  • Provide free testing for people at increased risk for kidney disease
  • Encourage people “at risk” to visit a clinician and follow the treatment plan recommended
  • Provide educational information so that “at risk” individuals can prevent or delay kidney damage
  • Provide  clinician referrals for follow-up care, if needed
  • Provide ongoing information and support

You can read more about the program at: http://www.kidney.org/news/keep/KEEPabout.cfm

The KEEP Program is for all people, but the ‘high risk’ ones are the ones that may need to take immediate action.  What is ‘high risk’ you ask?

According to The National Kidney Center at: http://www.nationalkidneycenter.org/chronic-kidney-disease/risk-factors/  these are the high risk people:

“High risk groups for chronic kidney disease (CKD) include those with diabetes, hypertension and a family history of kidney disease. African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and Seniors are also at increased risk.”

That definition covers quite a bit of ground.  For example, I have hypertension (high blood pressure) and am a Senior (Thank you for the capital letter, National Kidney Center!).  I don’t know if there’s any history of kidney disease in my family since the cousins my age don’t know of any, but our parents would never discuss their health with us.

Alright, so we need early detection.  Now, where can you find that?  On the home page of The National Kidney Foundation, there is an orange bar running across the page.  It has different pages on it. Hit the one that reads “Events.” Once you get to that page, scroll down and you’ll see the words, “Find a KEEP Screening Near You.”  Hit it. Voila!  You’ve found your local KEEP Screening.

The logical question here is, “What if there isn’t one near me?”  You don’t have to travel across state lines to find out if you have CKD.  Speak with your pcp (primary care doctor) and ask him or her to run a blood test and a urine test. While the results may not be crystal clear to a doctor who is not a nephrologist (kidney and hypertension specialist), high or low readings will be marked.  They will let your pcp know there may be a kidney function problem.bmp

The National Kidney Disease Education Program at The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at http://www.nkdep.nih.gov/resources/kidney-disease-mean-for-me.shtml#results provides the following information and a really nifty diagram of reduced function kidneys for you:

1. A blood test checks your GFR, which tells how well your kidneys are filtering. GFR stands for glomerular filtration rate.

2. A urine test checks for albumin. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged. See picture below.

kidney function

If necessary, meaning if your kidney function is compromised, your pcp will make certain you get to a nephrologist promptly.  This specialist will conduct more intensive tests that include:

Blood:

BUN –

BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen. Urea nitrogen is what forms when protein breaks down.

Creatinine

Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle

Urine:

Creatinine clearance

The creatinine clearance test compares the level of creatinine in urine with the creatinine level in the blood. Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine, which is an important part of muscle.

Thank you to MedLine Plus, part of the U.S. National Library of Medicine,  National Institutes of Health at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003475.htm for the above information about the blood and urine tests.

Well if this blog isn’t enough to get you to check your kidney function, I just don’t know what is.The Table

Before I leave, European sales of the book are surpassing those of U.S. sales.  I don’t know if that means we have more access to specialists and information here or that Europeans are reading more. Do let me know if there is a practice that needs a book donated to it or needs books to use as prizes or give-aways at patient education sessions.

I’m forgetting the world outside of wedding prep and CKD!  Guten Pesach to those who celebrate Passover, which started last night, and a Happy Easter to those who will be celebrating that on Sunday.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!