Your pee can give you clues about your risk for heart or kidney disease.
Breakthroughs in the technology of medical testing offer a new and incredibly effective new way of catching heart disease in the bud. Testing for microalbuminurea in your urine can now predict how prone you are to heart disease!
When an individual’s urine has small but abnormal amounts of protein, this is referred to as microalbuminurea. This is measured at a time when the amounts are so small that they do not show up in the conventional dipstick method. (30-300mg of albumin excretion by the kidneys over a period of 24 hours.)
The dipstick method of measuring albumin in the urine, only detects protein excretion that exceeds 300 mg per 24 hours. This is the standard range that is currently denoted as macroalbuminuria, or gross proteinuria(high levels of protein in the urine). With new testing, even smaller levels of protein in urine can be spotted, which means that conditions like kidney and cardiac disease can be spotted at a very early stage and steps can be taken that may even be able to reverse the condition!
‘Albumin’ is the most common protein found in blood. In people with normal blood levels, the kidneys will not allow albumin to be excreted. So when there is albumin in the urine, it’s a sign that something may be wrong. Microalbumin in the urine is an early indicator of kidney disease. Microalbuminuria is almost unheard of in childhood and before adolescence. Factors that contribute to the incidence of microalbuminuria are: duration of diabetes, high blood pressure, genetic susceptibility.
Microalbuminuria is most commonly associated with diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease setting in as a result of diabetes), but there are other causes, which include glomerulonephritis, amyloidosis and other forms of kidney disease. Detecting microalbuminuria early is important because it is often a sign that the patient may be at risk of developing overt proteinuria (macroalbuminuria) and renal failure. It is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Nephrologists and diabetologists have been measuring microalbuminuria in their patients to check for the development and progression of kidney disease. But urine is also being increasingly recognized as a sensitive predictor for cardiovascular risk. Studies show a clear relationship between microalbuminuria and cardiovascular events. If this is identified early, medication can be used to work against the condition and have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system.
At present the incidence of type 2 diabetes is increasing world-wide, with half the population unaware that they are diabetic. The result is an increase in deaths that are caused by end-stage renal disease and cardiovascular disease. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a silent killer, bringing with it many life-threatening complications on different organs like the kidney and heart. So there is a need for early identification of patients who are at greatest risk. By spotting the risk early, patients can start on renal and cardiovascular protective treatments early and have better quality of life.
As with every test, microalbuminuria too has the drawback of having false positive results. False positive reports happen when the patient has done strenuous exercise or has urinary tract infection, or severe hypertension, or some prolonged illness. But the chances of false positive in microalbuminuria are minimal. The best part of this new finding is that now, we can spot the onset of two potentially lethal conditions right when they start, and that too with something as simple as a urine test!