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Blood Tests

This information is provided to help you understand your blood tests.

Remember: Make an appointment with your medical practitioner for further evaluation of these test results.

Abnormal results may be the result of several factors and do not always indicate the presence of any disease. Some of these factors are: a) you ate too soon before your blood was drawn; b) medications you are taking; c) you are normally not within standard ranges. In some instances, abnormal test results do indicate that a medical evaluation is needed.

It is not possible to diagnose or treat any disease or problem with these blood tests alone. The tests can help you learn more about your body and help detect potential problems in early stages when treatment or changes in your habits can be most effective.

Non-prescription drugs (aspirin, cold medication, vitamins), prescription drugs, and alcohol intake often affect blood test results. Your medical practitioner must have a complete and honest picture of your use of medications in order to effectively interpret the results of your blood tests. If your medical practitioner has the information from the beginning, both of you will save time and money.

NA – Sodium is a blood electrolyte whose main function is fluid and acid-based balance and to transmit nerve impulses. Increased sodium values may be seen in dehydration, insufficient water intake and conditions like stroke or meningitis. Decreased values are seen in diarrhea, vomiting, kidney or liver disorders.

Potassium’s role in the body is water balance, and muscle function, particularly the heart. Low levels occur with dehydration, starvation and diuretic medications. High levels can be seen with renal failure and Addison’s Disease. Values outside the expected ranges, high or low, generally require medical evaluation. This is especially important if you are taking a diuretic (water pill) or heart pill (Digitalis, Lanoxin, Crystodigin). Falsely elevated levels are also seen when a blood sample shows hemolysis as a result of specimen collection.

Chloride holds many of the same roles in the body as sodium and potassium, but to a lesser extent. Decreased chloride is seen in dehydration, acute infections and heat exhaustion. Increased chloride levels are seen with anemia, kidney disorders and hyperventilation.

BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen): BUN is a waste product of protein breakdown in the body. It is produced by the liver and eliminated by the kidneys. Most elevated levels are seen with kidney and urinary tract disorders, but can also be seen with excessive protein intake in the diet. Decreased levels may be seen in malnutrition.

Creatinine is a waste affected by the protein you eat. It is a very good indicator of kidney function. Low values are not significant.

Glucose is a measure of sugar levels in the blood. High values are associated with eating too soon before the test or with diabetes. If your value is over 200, even if you had recently eaten, consult your medical practitioner. Even if you know you have diabetes, it is important to report an elevated sugar level to your medical practitioner.

ALP – Alkaline Phosphatase is an enzyme located mainly in the bone, liver and placenta. This test, when combined with other clinical findings, is an index of bone and liver disease.

SGPT/ALT is an enzyme that contributes to protein breakdown in the body. Increased values are seen when tissues are damaged and the enzymes are released into the bloodstream. This test, when combined with other clinical findings, is an index of liver disease.

T.PROT – Total Protein: Protein serves many purposes in the body including transportation of vitamins and minerals, forming antibodies and aiding in coagulation. Increased values may be seen in dehydration, inflammation, and some cancers. Decreased values are seen in malnutrition, liver and kidney problems and cancer.

ALB – Albumin is the portion of the protein, which is formed in the liver and helps to maintain normal water balance in the body. Increased albumin levels are usually not seen. Decreased albumin levels can occur in liver disease, severe diarrhea and malnutrition.

Total Bilirubin – Bilirubin is a by-product of red blood cell destruction and is removed from the body by the liver. A normal level of bilirubin rules out any significant impairment of the liver or hemolytic anemia.

Calcium – This test measures calcium found in the blood. Most calcium is found in the bones, but it is also important for proper blood clotting, nerve and cell activity. Decreased calcium levels can be seen in hypoparathyroidism, malnutrition, and Vitamin D deficiency. Increased levels occur in hyperparathyroidism and cancer.

TRIG – Triglycerides are a lipid (fat) produced by the liver. They are often elevated after eating a “fatty” meal and are used by the medical practitioner to evaluate patients suspected of atherosclerosis and as an indication of the body’s ability to break down fat.

Cholesterol Total is used by the body to form hormones, bile and cell membranes. Medical practitioners most commonly use this test as a measurement of a proper diet. Cholesterol is most often associated with atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, but is also useful in studying thyroid and liver function.

HDL Cholesterol is the lipid, which contains the least fat and the most protein. It is believed to actually remove cholesterol from the body and is often called the “good cholesterol”. Decreased values of HDL are associated with increased risk of heart disease. It is dependent upon genetic make-up, age, sex, and physical activity.

LDL Cholesterol – when used in conjunction with other lipid values, LDL is useful in determining coronary risk. LDL is known as the “bad cholesterol”. LDL deposits artery-clogging cholesterol on the walls of the blood vessels. Normal values for this test are variable depending on your risk factors (i.e., diabetes, blood pressure, age, family history, smoking, etc.). Consult your physician.

Iron Serum – a deficient amount is an indicator of anemia.

Uric Acid Serum – is formed as a by-product of protein breakdown in the body. High values should be evaluated by your medical practitioner and are associated with gout, arthritis, kidney problems and the use of some diuretics. Low values are probably not significant.

White Blood Count – White blood cells are involved with the body’s inflammatory (infection) and immune processes. Elevated values may indicate the body is fighting a bacterial infection. Stress may also elevate the WBC. Low values are sometimes an indication of a viral infection.

Red Blood Count – Red blood cells are needed to carry oxygen and iron in the body. Insufficient amounts may be due to anemia.

Hemoglobin / Hematocrit – Low hemoglobin and hematocrit levels are also indicators of anemia.

Platelet Count – Platelets are small cells found in the blood which aid in clotting of the blood. Their numbers can be influenced by medications, infections and some anemias. Extremely low (less than 100) and extremely high (greater than 500) should be evaluated by your medical practitioner.

TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is used as the initial diagnostic test of thyroid function.

PSA – Prostate Specific Antigen is a glycoprotein that is produced by the prostate gland. Normally, very little PSA is secreted into the blood. Increases in glandular size, prostatitis, and/or prostate cancer may increase PSA levels. The American Cancer Society recommends annual examinations with digital rectal examination and serum PSA beginning at the age of 50 for all men.