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Renin blood test

Show Alternative Names
Plasma renin activity
Random plasma renin
PRA

The renin test measures the level of renin in blood.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

How to Prepare for the Test

Certain medicines may affect the results of this test. Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines. DO NOT stop any medicine before talking to your provider.

Medicines that can affect renin measurements include:

  • Birth control pills.
  • Blood pressure drugs.
  • Medicines that dilate blood vessels (vasodilators). These are usually used to treat high blood pressure or heart failure.
  • Water pills (diuretics).

Your provider may instruct you to limit your sodium intake before the test.

Be aware that renin level can be affected by pregnancy, as well as the time of day and the body position when blood is drawn.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

Renin is a protein (enzyme) released by special kidney cells when you have a decreased salt (sodium) level or low blood volume. Most often, the renin blood test is done at the same time as an aldosterone blood test to calculate the renin to aldosterone ratio.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may order a renin and aldosterone test to help determine the cause of your elevated blood pressure. Test results can help guide your doctor in choosing the correct treatment.

Normal Results

For normal sodium diet, normal value range is 0.6 to 4.3 ng/mL/hour (0.6 to 4.3 µg/L/hour). For low sodium diet, normal value range is 2.9 to 24 ng/mL/hour (2.9 to 24 µg/L/hour).

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A high level of renin may be due to:

A low level of renin may be due to:

Risks

There is little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Multiple punctures to locate veins
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Text only

Review Date: 7/17/2021

Reviewed By

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

References

Guber HA, Oprea M, Russell YX.  Evaluation of endocrine function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 25

Weiner ID, Wingo CS. Endocrine causes of hypertension: aldosterone. In: Feehally J, Floege J, Tonelli M, Johnson RJ, eds. Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 38.

Disclaimer

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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Kidney - blood and urine flow - Illustration Thumbnail

Kidney - blood and urine flow

This is the typical appearance of the blood vessels (vasculature) and urine flow pattern in the kidney. The blood vessels are shown in red and the urine flow pattern in yellow.

Illustration

Blood test - Illustration Thumbnail

Blood test

Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. Preparation may vary depending on the specific test.

Illustration

Kidney - blood and urine flow - Illustration Thumbnail

Kidney - blood and urine flow

This is the typical appearance of the blood vessels (vasculature) and urine flow pattern in the kidney. The blood vessels are shown in red and the urine flow pattern in yellow.

Illustration

Blood test - Illustration Thumbnail

Blood test

Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. Preparation may vary depending on the specific test.

Illustration

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

 
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