How to interpret blood chemistry test results

Written by evelyn trimborn
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Your blood chemistry test, also known as your chem screen or chem panel, measures some of the most important chemicals produced and needed by your body to function properly. If your results are not within the normal range, it can sometimes mean that a disease is present in the body, or that a drug might be causing side effects.

Blood chemistry tests can involve dozens of different tests, but at your regular check up, in addition to a complete blood count panel (CBC), your chem panel will usually measure the function of your key organs like your liver and kidneys.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Blood chemistry test results
  • Printed explanation of results

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  1. 1

    Look at your Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP). Read the results in the order they appear. Compare your Glucose level to the acceptable range listed on the results. The acceptable glucose range is 70 to 99 mg/dl (3.9 to 5.5 mmol/L). Anything higher than that is a possible sign of pre-diabetes or diabetes.

  2. 2

    Compare your calcium (Ca) level to the normal range of 9.0--10.5 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) or 2.25--2.75 millimoles per litre (mmol/L). Increased and decreased levels of calcium can be a sign of deficiency of either the calcium itself, or of the hormone in the body that regulates calcium.

  3. 3

    Continue viewing your results, noting anything which is not within the acceptable range, or appears borderline, that is, within the normal range, but close to the upper or lower limit. The Basic Metabolic Panel will also show electrolytes, w

  4. 4

    Look at your Kidney Test Results, including BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) and creatinine levels, which when elevated can show a temporary or chronic decrease which is altering your kidney function.

  5. 5

    Look at the rest of the results. If you see the abbreviation CMP, your doctor has ordered a Complete Metabolic Panel, which includes all of the tests in the BMP, plus a protein composite.

    Read the results of your CMP. Albumin, a small protein produced in the liver, is the major protein in blood serum. Total protein measures albumin as well as all other proteins in your blood. Increases and decreases in these test results can indicate a health concern.

  6. 6

    Look at your Liver Test results, including ALP (Alkaline Phosphatase), ALT (Alanine Amino Transferase, also called SGPT), AST (Aspartate Amino Transferase, also called SGOT) and bilirubin.

    ALP, ALT and AST are enzymes found in the liver and other tissues. Bilirubin is a waste product produced by the liver as it breaks down and recycles old red blood cells. Any increase in these levels could show liver disease or the side effects of certain medications.

  7. 7

    Read your cholesterol levels, including HDL, (High Density Lipoprotein), LDL, (Low Density Lipoprotein) and triglyceride Your HDL levels should be high, and your LDL and triglycerides should be low.

Tips and warnings

  • Many different factors can affect the outcome of your blood test, such as if you took after eating, what lab was used, how the sample was treated prior to being tested.

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