How to interpret blood test results

Written by catherine chase
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Blood test results can be very complicated to sort through if you have no medical training. Ideally, you should discuss them with your doctor, particularly if you have any results that fall outside the normal range. That said, if you do have abnormal values, it does not necessarily mean that you have a medical problem. Your results can be abnormal due to such factors as diet, level of physical activity, alcohol consumption, prescription and non-prescription drug consumption such as vitamins, age and gender

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

    How to Interpret Blood Test Results

  1. 1

    Interpret the results of your glucose level by determining if it falls outside the normal range. For a fasting glucose test, the normal range is 60-99 mg/dl. A fasting glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher is indicative of diabetes.

  2. 2

    Determine whether your test results include electrolyte counts. The portion of the test results that indicates electrolytes refers to your potassium, sodium, and CO2 levels. These levels can fall outside the normal range if you are on medication or have a pre-existing condition. Examples include diuretic or heart pills (affects potassium levels), diabetes medications (affects sodium levels), and metabolic disorders, kidney disease, and uncontrolled diabetes (affects CO2 levels).

  3. 3

    Establish your Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) level. A high value could indicate that the kidneys are not working properly, however this could also be caused by a high protein diet or strenuous exercise. If you are pregnant, your BUN levels will fall under the normal range.

  4. 4

    Ascertain whether your enzyme values are due to your lifestyle or a pre-existing medical condition. If you have high enzyme values, this could indicate excessive alcohol consumption, as well as a number of medical conditions. For example, if your CPK (an enzyme) levels are high and you have not had a heart attack in the last 3-4 hours, you may have a skeletal muscle disease.

  5. 5

    Measure your cholesterol by gauging whether it is over the safe limit. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the "bad" cholesterol that ideally should be less than 130 (100 is better). An LDL value higher than 160 is considered a high risk. On the other hand, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) -- the "good" cholesterol -- should ideally be a high value, as HDL protects against heart disease. Triglyceride is another blood fat.

Tips and warnings

  • Some common acronyms referring to blood tests are CBC, or Complete Blood Count, CMP, or Complete Metabolic Panel, and TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.
  • Having abnormal test results does not necessarily mean you have a medical condition; be sure to get a medical professional's advice.

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