Kidney Health Dictionary
Albumin is the main protein in your blood. It helps build muscle, repair tissue, and fight infection. Albumin should be in your blood, not in your urine. If your kidneys are damaged, protein can “leak” out of the kidneys into your urine. The presence of albumin (protein) in your urine is called albuminuria or proteinuria.
A simple urine test used to detect protein in your urine is an albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR). Excessive protein in the urine is one of the earliest symptoms of kidney disease. In a single urine specimen, less than 30 mg of albumin per gram of creatine is normal. More than 30 mg is high; 30 to 300 mg is very high.
The ACR is calculated by dividing the albumin concentration in milligrams by the creatinine concentration in grams.
Anemia is a condition when your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen to your body. There are many conditions that cause anemia, including advanced chronic kidney disease. Anemia can make you feel tired and dizzy. You may feel short of breath or have a headache.
Automated peritoneal dialysis (APD) is similar to continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), but the cycles are done using a special machine called a cycler. Each cycle usually lasts about 1 hour 30 minutes. The cycles are done throughout the night while you sleep. You may need a cycle during the day, depending upon your body size, age, and other factors.
Blood glucose is sugar in the blood stream. One test for blood glucose is a simple finger stick. If fasting, over 125 mg/dL may indicate diabetes. After eating, over 200 mg/dL may indicate diabetes.
Another test to measure blood glucose is the HbA1c. This test gives a 3-month snapshot of your blood sugar control.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney disease. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg.
High blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher for adults younger than 60 years old. If you are over 60 years old, high blood pressure is 150/90 or greater. Goals for your blood pressure may be different if you have certain conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or protein in your urine. Talk to your doctor to find out what the right goal is for you.
Your liver creates urea nitrogen as a waste product from the proteins in your food. The waste product is measured in your blood as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and ends up filtered by your kidneys. Healthy kidneys get rid of most of the BUN from the blood through the urine. When your kidneys aren’t working well, they can’t remove as much. This causes the BUN level in your blood to rise. BUN also can rise if you eat more protein.
A catheter is a narrow plastic tube. Catheters can be used for access during dialysis.
For hemodialysis, access is made by inserting a special catheter into a large vein in the neck or upper chest. This type of access is most often temporary. A catheter is placed only when you need to start dialysis. Catheters have more problems, such as clotting or infection, than fistulas or grafts.
For peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is placed into the peritoneal cavity for access. During treatment, the peritoneal cavity is filled with dialysis fluid through the catheter. After treatment, the fluid is drained out through the catheter into an empty bag and discarded.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood. There is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. If your total cholesterol is over 200 mg/dL, you may be a risk for heart disease, a major risk factor for kidney disease.
A chronic disease is one that lasts for years (or a lifetime) and may get worse over time.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood as well as they should. Excess fluid and waste begin to build up in the body. This can make you feel sick.
Kidney damage can range from mild to complete kidney failure. There are 5 stages of kidney damage based on the percent of kidney function and your GFR. The earlier chronic kidney disease is detected, the better the chance of slowing or stopping its progression.
Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) is the only type of dialysis that is done without a machine. This treatment is done by pouring a bag of dialysis fluid (about 2 quarts) into the peritoneal cavity through a catheter. The fluid stays inside the cavity for 4 or 5 hours. Then the fluid is drained back into the bag and thrown away. You can go about your usual activities while the dialysis fluid is in your peritoneal cavity. CAPD is done several times during the day.
Creatinine is a waste product created by normal breakdown of muscle cells. Healthy kidneys filter creatinine out of the blood into the urine. If the kidneys aren’t working properly, creatine builds up in the blood.
Diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar. Either the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use normal amounts of insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone that regulates how much sugar is in your blood. A high blood sugar level can damage many organs in your body—kidneys, heart, blood vessels, eyes, and nerves.
There are 2 types of diabetes:
Often called “juvenile onset” diabetes, Type I diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin.
Often called “adult onset” diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is more common. It usually occurs in people over 40 years old but can occur in children. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes a normal amount of insulin, but the body doesn’t use it effectively. This causes the sugar in the blood to be too high.
Dialysis is a treatment that removes wastes and fluids from your body when your own kidneys aren’t able to do their job effectively. The 2 types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
End-stage kidney disease (ESKD) is when your kidneys are no longer working. You will need dialysis on a regular basis or a kidney transplant to maintain life. ESKD is also called kidney failure. Kidney failure and end-stage kidney disease are terms for the same condition: stage 5 of chronic kidney disease.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) measures how much kidney function you have. A low level of GFR may mean your kidneys are no longer working as well as they should to remove waste from your body.
A math formula is used to calculate it using your blood creatinine level, your age, sex, and body size. In adults, GFR declines with age, even in people without kidney disease.
Your GFR tells your doctor your stage of kidney disease and helps the doctor make a treatment plan. The earlier kidney disease is detected, the better the chance of slowing or stopping its progression.
HbA1C is a blood test that gives a 3-month snapshot of blood sugar control.
A health disparity is the difference in quality of care or health outcomes for a nonminority group compared to a minority group.
Hemodialysis uses an artificial kidney (hemodialyzer) to clean your blood outside of the body. It filters excess fluid and waste from your blood. To get blood from your body into the artificial kidney, the doctor makes an access (or entrance) into your blood vessels. The access is created during minor surgery.
Kidney disease means the loss of some kidney function. The kidneys are not working as well as healthy kidneys. Kidney disease can be acute or chronic.
Acute kidney disease is when the kidneys suddenly stop working. Acute kidney disease can be caused by traumatic injury, shock, or dehydration. Other causes are an enlarged prostate or complications during pregnancy. Certain drugs or toxins also can cause acute kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease is when kidney function gets worse over time. The main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure.
Kidney failure is loss of all kidney function. Another term for kidney failure is end-stage kidney disease. Kidney failure is stage 5, the last stage of chronic kidney disease. Stage 5 is defined as GFR of less than 15 and kidney function of less than 15%.
Kidney failure can take months or years to develop. In this last stage of chronic kidney disease, the kidneys can’t work well enough to keep you alive. There is no cure for kidney failure. But with treatment it is possible to live a long life. Options for treatment are dialysis or kidney transplant.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) cleans blood inside your body. The inside lining of your abdomen (peritoneal cavity) acts as a natural filter and is called the peritoneum or peritoneal membrane. Before PD treatment, a catheter is placed into the peritoneal cavity for access to the peritoneal membrane.
During treatment, the peritoneal cavity is filled with a dialysis fluid through the catheter. The fluid stays there for a period of time. Then the fluid, which now contains the filtered waste products, is drained out through the catheter and discarded. The process of putting fluid in and draining fluid out is called an “exchange”. One exchange takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
Peritoneal dialysis can be done at home. Two types are
- Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD)
- Automated peritoneal dialysis (APD)
Renal is a medical term that means “related to the kidneys.” For example, the term end-stage renal disease means the same as end-stage kidney disease.
Something that increases the likelihood that you will get a disease. For example, diabetes increases your risk for kidney disease.
A plan of medical care to help you get well or to keep an illness or disease from getting worse.