My eGFR is below normal: Do I have a kidney disease?

Written by: Dr James Pattison
Edited by: Sophie Kennedy

In this informative article, revered consultant nephrologist Dr James Pattison sheds light on how eGFR test results, which indicate kidney function and health, are interpreted. The leading specialist also shares insight on the most effective lifestyle changes to help improve kidney function.

What is eGFR?

eGFR stands for estimated glomerular filtration rate. It is calculated from the serum creatinine which is the blood test used to measure kidney function. Serum creatinine is not linearly related to renal function and eGFR is easier to understand.


What is a normal eGFR?

A normal eGFR is greater than 90. However, with normal ageing, eGFR falls by about one per cent per annum.


What does it mean if my eGFR is below normal?

If eGFR is below normal it may be due to a true reduction of kidney function. However, it is also influenced by other factors such as increased muscle mass, reduced fluid intake and medications such as NSAIDs and ACE inhibitors.


What are the causes of a low eGFR?

Apart from the factors mentioned above, common causes of kidney disease include diabetes, hypertension, glomerulonephritis, vascular disease and inherited renal diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease and Alport syndrome.


What are the symptoms of a low eGFR?

Most patients will not have symptoms unless eGFR falls below about 20-25. As kidney function decreases below this level, symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, ankle swelling, loss of appetite and itching.


What are the treatment options for a low eGFR?

Treatment for most kidney diseases revolves around good blood pressure. For patients with proteinuria, treatment involves using ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor inhibitors. There is also increasing evidence for the use of SGLT2 inhibitors. Certain kidney diseases have specific treatments which is why an accurate diagnosis is important.


What lifestyle changes can I make to improve my kidney function?

Lifestyle changes which can help improve kidney function include losing weight, taking exercise, stopping smoking and eating a diet low in salt and animal protein.



If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr Pattison, visit his Top Doctors profile today.

By Dr James Pattison

Dr James Pattison is a leading consultant nephrologist based in London. His specialisms are urinary tract infections, diabetic kidney disease, hypertension, and all stages of chronic kidney disease. He also has a specialist interest in glomerular diseases and kidney transplantation. He privately practices at London Bridge Hospital, BMI The Blackheath Hospital and The Private Outpatients Consulting Rooms clinic in the capital. His NHS base is Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, where he has practiced for over 25 years. 

Dr Pattison has a very busy clinical practice and alongside receiving impressive reviews from his patients, he is noted for his involvement as a principal investigator in clinical trials. These study new immunosuppressive agents used in kidney transplantation treatment.        

Dr Pattison has an impressive educational history, qualifying from Oxford University in 1987. He went on to undergo higher training in renal medicine, both nationally at Guy’s Hospital, and internationally at Stanford University in California, USA.

Dr Pattison is also a respected name in medical academia. He has authored two books, written several book chapters and co-authored several publications, mainly in the field of kidney transplantation. His work also has also been widely published in peer-reviewed journals.   

Furthermore, Dr Pattison is an active member of various professional bodies including the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), The UK Kidney Association (UKKA) and the British Transplantation Society (BTS) alongside The Medico-Legal Society. 

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Overall assessment of their patients

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