What Do My Blood Test Results Mean? - Part ONE - Complete Metabolic Panel - CMP
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Foreword by awordlover
This is part one of a three part series.
Sometimes, when you look at the form that has all your blood work results, it is just boggling to the eye. Most people have no idea why each test is done, much less what it is looking for and hopefully this article will help you decipher it all.
I guess the first thing that you should know is that certain things can influence a test to come out as a false positive or a false negative. False positive is when a test says a disease is present and it really is not. False negative is when a test says a disease is not present and it really is.
Please understand that values change from laboratory to laboratory. Use the reference range column on your laboratory form because many laboratories set their own reference ranges. It would not be beneficial for you to compare your results from one laboratory with the reference ranges from another laboratory. One could easily get upset thinking the worse when, in fact, it is just the way the labs set their values.
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A Complete Metabolic Panel
- Also known as a CMP. In the past, you may have heard these terms: Chem 12, Chemistry panel; Chemistry screen; SMA 12, SMA 20, SMAC. Today we usually refer to it as CMP. It is a group of tests that measures your liver and kidney function and your electrolyte levels. I will only highlight the most performed assays. Anything other than what I have listed is most likely considered a special order when the doctor is ordering your lab work. He will write it on the laboratory form if it is not already listed.
Standards of measure: mg = milligram, g = gram, IU = international unit, L = liter, pg = picogram, fL = femtoliter, mcL = microliter, dL = deciliter, mmol = millimole, mEq = milliequivalent.
I also want you to know that certain factors can influence the outcome of a test.
- Some tests require fasting 8 to 12 hours before.
- Some tests require you to eat a few hours before a test.
- Some medications raise blood sugar, for example steroids and hormone medications.
- Some medications lower blood sugar, for example depression and blood pressure medications.
- Other factors include pregnancy, stress, smoking, taking Vitamin C, exercise, caffeine beverages and alcohol to name a few.
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What Does The Complete Metabolic Panel Test For?
Usually your doctor will tell you to stop all food and fluids about 8 to 12 hours before this blood test.
A Complete Metabolic Panel (CMP) tests for
1) blood sugar (glucose),
2) serum protein tests (includes albumin - a blood protein, globulin (A/G Ratio), total blood protein),
3) electrolyte panel (which includes sodium, potassium, chloride, and CO2),
4) kidney tests (blood urea nitrogen, creatinine),
5) liver function tests (ALP (alkaline phosphatase), ALT (alanine amino transferase, also called SGPT), AST (aspartate amino transferase, also called SGOT and bilirubin).
In addition to the CMP, your doctor may order a Complete Blood Cell count (CBC), fasting blood test for triglycerides and cholesterol, thyroid tests, CPK (creatine phosphokinase), Vitamin B12 level, and ammonia level (ammonium ion test). More about CBC in another hub.
Now, the explanations!
Health Fair screenings can alert to underlying problems
1 - Glucose
Blood sugar (glucose) testing is usually done while fasting.
The reasons are to test if you are in healthy range (looking for HYPOglycemia or HYPERglycemia conditions), monitor diabetes, and while on other medications or while pregnant for fluctuations in levels.
Normal range for fasting glucose is 70 -100 mg/dL.
Higher test results indicate possible diabetes or contraindication of medications you are presently taking.
Lower test results indicate hypoglycemia - low blood sugar and is an emergency event which should be treated immediately. Normal protocol is a healthy meal within an hour for slightly low blood sugar OR orange juice with sugar for extremely low levels.
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Basic Instructions Before Testing
2 - CMP: Protein Levels
Total Protein, Albumin, Globulin, A/G Ratio
Serum protein tests include Total Protein, Albumin, and Globulin (A/G Ratio).
Albumin - this test measures how well your kidneys and liver are working and if your body has enough protein. Albumin transports nutrients throughout your body. A physician may order this test if you are retaining water in your ankles, belly or lungs.
- Normal values are between 3.9 and 5.0 g/dL. A high reading indicates a cause of severe dehydration while a low reading indicates liver or kidney maladies, problems with thyroid, malnutrition, an autoimmune disease (ex: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis,), gastrointestinal or malabsorption diseases (ex: Celiac's Disease, Crohn's Disease) and burn victims.
Total Protein - this test measures the total protein in the blood.
- Normal values are between 60 and 85 g/L. A high reading indicates Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Leukemia, or Paraproteinanemia. A low reading indicates a low albumin rate signalling liver disease or some type of acute infection.
Globulin - (Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Globulin) - this test is usually done to see if you are at risk of infection or if have a particular blood disease (ex: multiple myeloma).
- Normal values for Alpha-1 globulin are between 0.1-0.3 g/dL.
- Normal values for Alpha-2 globulin are 0.6-1.0 g/dL.
- Normal values for Beta globulin are 0.7-1.4 g/dL.
- Normal values for Gamma globulin are 0.7-1.6 g/dL.
- Normal values for Albumin/Globulin (A/G) ratio is 1.1-1.8. Again, these vary with laboratories. A high reading usually means there is a blood disease such as multiple myeloma, Hodgkin's Lymphoma, autoimmune diseases (ex: lupus, hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, scarcoidosis), tuberculosis, or kidney or liver disease. A low reading can indicate emphysema or liver dysfunction.
If your A/G Ratio is elevated, your physician should look for causes: hypothyroidism, overuse of corticosteroids, high protein high carbohydrate diet, adrenal dysfunction.
Complete Metabolic Panel - CMP
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© January 2012 Anne DiGeorge
Updated 2/3/2014 by Rachael O'Halloran to replace pixelated copyscape logo, update photo attribution and correct format issues.
© 2012 awordlover
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