The presence of tiny amounts of the protein albumin in the urine, a risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. Microalbuminuria is defined by a urinary excretion rate of 30–300 mg of albumin in a 24-hour period.
The function of the kidneys is to filter waste products from the bloodstream and regulate fluid levels in the body. If there is kidney damage, as from diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease), the kidneys may fail to filter out wastes or to retain essential nutrients or proteins in the blood, such as albumin. This leaking of albumin is an early sign of diabetic kidney disease as well as abnormalities in the walls of blood vessels, an early indicator of atherosclerosis. The American Diabetes Association recommends annual microalbuminuria tests for people with Type 2 diabetes starting at diagnosis and for people with Type 1 diabetes starting five years after diagnosis.
There are two types of microalbuminuria tests. One type, which can be performed in any health-care setting, involves a single urine sample that is sent to a laboratory to be analyzed. The second type of test requires the patient to collect urine over a 24-hour period and give the sample to his or her health-care provider for laboratory analysis. If the laboratory result shows microalbuminuria, the test is given again to confirm the result. If microalbuminuria is present, your doctor may take measures to prevent the kidney disease from getting worse.
Want to learn more about kidney disease? Read “Kidney Disease: Your Seven-Step Plan for Prevention” and “Ten Things to Know About Kidney Disease.”