Reading a blood test – understanding blood test results
Have you ever had a blood test done and asked for the blood workup results? Most results will give you a reference range which is great. However, due to a lot of abbreviations and a lack of understanding what role certain chemicals play in the body, you might be confused as to what the results mean, which further makes it tough to make sense of blood test results. After a bit of research, I have stumbled across Dr.Mercola who has thoroughly put things in perspective for us.
Understanding Blood Test Results (Reading a chemical workup):
The following information describes what each component is responsible for in a basic chemical workup blood test.
What Does Your Blood Test Mean?
Glucose: This is the chief source of energy for all living organisms. A level greater than 105 in someone who has fasted for 12 hours suggests a diabetic tendency. If this level is elevated even in a non-fasting setting one must be concerned that there is a risk for developing diabetes. This is an incredibly powerful test and can predict diabetes ten years or more before one develops the strict definition of diabetes which is levels greater than 120.
Sodium: This element plays an important role in salt and water balance in your body. A low level in the blood can be caused by too much water intake, heart failure, or kidney failure. A low level can also be caused by loss of sodium in diarrhea, fluid or vomiting. A high level can be caused by too much intake of salt or by not enough intake of water.
Potassium and Magnesium: These elements are found primarily inside the cells of the body. Low levels in the blood may indicate severe diarrhea, alcoholism, or excessive use of water pills. A very low level of magnesium in the blood can cause your muscles to tremble. Low potassium levels can cause muscle weakness and heart problems.
Chloride: Is an electrolyte controlled by the kidneys and can sometimes be affected by diet. An electrolyte is involved in maintaining acid-base balance and helps to regulate blood volume and artery pressure. Elevated levels are related to acidosis as well as too much water crossing the cell membrane.
BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen): BUN is a waste product derived from protein breakdown in the liver. Increases can be caused by excessive protein intake, kidney damage, certain drugs, low fluid intake, intestinal bleeding, exercise, heart failure or decreased digestive enzyme production by the pancreas. Decreased levels are most commonly due to inadequate protein intake, malabsorption, or liver damage.
Creatinine: Creatinine is also a protein breakdown product. Its level is a reflection of the bodies muscle mass. Low levels are commonly seen in inadequate protein intake, liver disease, kidney damage or pregnancy. Elevated levels are generally reflective of kidney damage and need to be monitored very carefully.
Uric Acid: Uric acid is the end product purine metabolism. High levels are seen in gout, infections, high protein diets, and kidney disease. Low levels generally indicate protein and molybdenum (trace mineral) deficiency, liver damage or an overly acid kidney.
Phosphate: Phosphate is closely associated with calcium in bone development. Therefore most of the phosphate in the body is found in the bones. But the phosphate level in the blood is very important for muscle and nerve function. Very low levels of phosphate in the blood can be associated with starvation or malnutrition and this can lead to muscle weakness. High levels in the blood are usually associated with kidney disease. However the blood must be drawn carefully as improper handling may falsely increase the reading.
Calcium: Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is involved in bone metabolism, protein absorption, fat transfer, muscular contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, blood clotting, and heart function. It is highly sensitive to elements such as magnesium, iron, and phosphorous as well as hormonal activity, vitamin D levels, CO2 levels and many drugs. Diet, or even the presence of calcium in the diet has a lot to do with "calcium balance" – how much calcium you take in and how much you lose from your body.
Albumin: The most abundant protein in the blood, it is made in the liver and is an antioxidant that protects your tissues from free radicals. It binds waste products, toxins and dangerous drugs that might damage the body. Is also is a major buffer in the body and plays a role in controlling the precise amount of water in our tissues. It serves to transport vitamins, minerals and hormones. The higher this number is, the better. The highest one can reasonably expect would be 5.5.
Alkaline Phosphatase: Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme that is found in all body tissue, but the most important sites are bone, liver, bile ducts and the gut. A high level of alkaline phosphatase in your blood may indicate bone, liver or bile duct disease. Certain drugs may also cause high levels. Growing children, because of bone growth, normally have a higher level than adults do. Low levels indicate low functioning adrenal glands, protein deficiency, malnutrition or more commonly, a deficiency in zinc.
Transaminases (SGTP) & (SGOT): These are enzymes that are primarily found in the liver. Drinking too much alcohol, certain drugs, liver disease and bile duct disease can cause high levels in the blood. Hepatitis is another problem that can raise these levels. Low levels of GGTP may indicate a magnesium deficiency. Low levels of SGPT and SGOT may indicate deficiency of vitamin B6.
Gamma-Glutamyltranserase (GGTP): Believed to be involved in the transport of amino acids into cells as well as glutathione metabolism. Found in the liver and will rise with alcohol use, liver disease, or excess magnesium. Decreased levels can be found in hypothyroidism and more commonly decreased magnesium levels.
Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH): LDH is an enzyme found in all tissues in the body. A high level in the blood can result from a number of different diseases. Also, slightly elevated levels in the blood are common and usually do not indicate disease. The most common sources of LDH are the heart, liver, muscles, and red blood cells.
Total Protein: This is a measure of the total amount of protein in your blood. A low or high total protein does not indicate a specific disease, but it does indicate that some additional tests may be required to determine if there is a problem.
Iron: The body must have iron to make hemoglobin and to help transfer oxygen to the muscle. If the body is low in iron, all body cells, particularly muscles in adults and brain cells in children, do not function up to par. If this test is low you should consider getting a Ferritin test, especially if you are a female who still has menstrual cycles.
Triglycerides: These are fats used as fuel by the body, and as an energy source for metabolism. Increased levels are almost always a sign of too much carbohydrate intake. Decreased levels are seen in hyperthyroidism, malnutrition and malabsorption.
Cholesterol: Group of fats vital to cell membranes, nerve fibers and bile salts, and a necessary precursor for the sex hormones. High levels indicate diet high in carbohydrates/sugars. Low levels indicate low fat diet, malabsorption, or carbohydrate sensitivity.
HDL/LDL: LDL is the "bad cholesterol", which carries cholesterol for cell building needs, but leaves behind any excess on artery walls and in tissues. HDL is the "good cholesterol" which helps to prevent narrowing of the artery walls by removing the excess cholesterol and transporting it to the liver for excretion. A low HDL percentage frequently indicates diets high in refined carbohydrates and/or carbohydrate sensitivity.
CO2: The CO2 level is related to the respiratory exchange of carbon dioxide in the lungs and is part of the bodies buffering system. Generally, when used with the other electrolytes, carbon dioxide levels indicate pH or acid/alkaline balance in the tissues. This is one of the most important tests that we measure. Most people have too much acid in their body. If you garden you will know that it is very difficult to grow plants in soil where the pH is incorrect. Our blood is similar to soil in many respects and it will be difficult to be healthy if our body's pH is not well balanced.
WBC: White blood count measures the total number of white blood cells in a given volume of blood. Since WBCs kill bacteria, this count is a measure of the body's response to infection.
Hemoglobin: Hemoglobin provides the main transport of oxygen and carbon in the blood. It is composed of "globin", a group of amino acids that form a protein and "heme", which contains iron. It is an important determinant of anemia (decreased hemoglobin) or poor diet/nutrition or malabsorption.
Hematocrit: Hematocrit is the measurement of the percentage of red blood cells in whole blood. It is an important determinant of anemia (decreased), dehydration (elevated) or possible overhydration (decreased).
MCV: Thismeasures the average size of the red blood cells and their volume. These components together can indicate iron deficiency anemia (decreased), B12/folate deficiency anemia (increased), or rheumatoid arthritis (decreased).
Thanks to Dr.Mercola