What's in your pee may mean the difference between life and death. A large study recently came out showing that kidney function tests can forecast who is likely to die of cardiovascular and heart diseases (including stroke). And the study concluded that these kidney tests are better predictors than the standard risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol and blood pressure. This means that if your physician measures your kidney function using estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and tests your urine for the albumin protein (also known as microalbuminuria), he or she will be better able to determine your risk for cardiovascular and heart disease, including your risk of dying from these diseases.
There's a silver--or should I say yellow--lining though. There's a lot that can be done if your urine test shows that you're at risk for heart and kidney disease. Treatments for both include statin drugs to lower cholesterol, using drugs known as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB agents) to lower blood pressure, and maintaining blood pressure levels below 130/80. Healthy lifestyles have also been shown to slow progression of kidney disease and improve outcomes of heart and cardiovascular disease. So avoid smoking, be physically active for at least 150 minutes per week, eat a healthy low salt diet such as the DASH diet, and maintain a healthy body weight.
Just like when you really have to go to the bathroom, don't hold it in! Pee is a lifesaver, so at your next physical, ask your physician to check your kidney health with a simple urine test. It holds the key to catching kidney disease, heart disease and so much more!