Creatinine is a waste product from the normal breakdown of muscle tissue. As creatinine is produced, it's filtered through the kidneys and excreted in urine. Doctors measure the blood creatinine level as a test of kidney function. The kidneys' ability to handle creatinine is called the creatinine clearance rate, which helps to estimate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) -- the rate of blood flow through the kidneys.
Since diabetes and high blood pressure put you at risk of kidney disease, know where you stand with these risks. Do you have diabetes or high blood pressure? If so, are they under control?
If you can, find out if diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease runs in your family. Certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans are at higher risk of chronic kidney disease, as are senior citizens.
Get Tested Regularly
At your next checkup, and at least within the next year if you haven't had these tests done:
Ask for a blood pressure reading, to see if your blood pressure is elevated.
Ask for a fastingblood glucose test, to see if you have too much glucose (sugar) in your blood. Another blood test that can be used to determine diabetes is a hemoglobin A1C which will indicate your average blood glucose level over the past two to three months.
Ask for a creatinine test. This blood test measures the amount of waste from muscle activity. When the kidneys are not working properly, the creatinine rises.
If any of these tests are abnormal, your health care provider will need to do other tests to more clearly define the problem.
If you have diabetes, work with your health care provider to keep your blood sugar levels under the best possible control. A program of diet, regular exercise, glucose monitoring, and medications to control blood sugars and protect kidney function can help.