When patients visit their doctors, they often have blood drawn to run their labs. Doctors are looking for a few key things when these labs are drawn. Below is an explanation of every marker drawn in comprehensive laboratory testing.
A lipid panel checks a patient’s cholesterol. Cholesterol is controlled both by genetics and diet. When patients have elevated cholesterol, it can essentially clog their arteries and elevate their risk for heart attacks or stroke. There are 4 markers that are included in the lipid panel. Through research, doctors know the ideal levels of cholesterol and will base their medication decisions on this foundation.
- Total Cholesterol – This is the HDL + LDL cholesterol.
- HDL – Otherwise known as the "Good Cholesterol", too little not ideal.
- LDL – The “Bad Cholesterol”, too much is unhealthy.
- Triglycerides – Related to fatty acids, elevated triglycerides can be a sign of a genetic disorder or an unhealthy diet. They too elevate the risk for stroke or heart attack.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
The Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) measures a wide variety of things. In general, they measure the function of your liver, your kidneys, and some of the electrolytes in your body. You may have heard of a Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP). A BMP is very similar to a CMP. However, a BMP does not have the liver tests included, as well as some more minor tests. Below are the individual factors.
- Albumin – A protein made by your liver, an abnormal albumin can signify liver dysfunction or malnutrition.
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) – This is a compound that should be resorbed by your kidneys. If it is elevated, this is a sign that your kidneys are not working properly.
- Calcium – Calcium is regulated by many organs. An increase or decrease in calcium can be a sign of kidney dysfunction, parathyroid dysfunction, osteoporosis and bone issues, or a genetic disorder.
- Bicarbonate – Bicarbonate is a compound that helps measure lung function and whether multiple organ systems are communicating with each other as they should. Normally, the body is supposed maintain a certain pH. Essentially it should not be too basic or too acidic. Bicarbonate helps regulate this system. There are many reasons that a person may have abnormal bicarbonate, but this can become very serious.
- Chloride – Another electrolyte, abnormal chloride levels may be due to medication side effects.
- Creatinine – Creatinine is one of the most important parts of the CMP. It is the most widely used way to measure the function of the kidneys. When creatinine is elevated, this is a sign that the kidneys are not function. This may be due to dehydration, chronic kidney disease, or something more acute like a kidney infection. Kidney failure can be deadly, so doctors always like to check kidney function with a creatinine.
- Glucose – Glucose is another name for sugar. This test measures the sugar in your blood. Sugar levels can range widely depending on when and what a person ate. People with diabetes check their blood sugar with a point-of-care glucometer. This measures the same value.
- Potassium – Another electrolyte, potassium may be elevated or depressed. This could be due to kidney dysfunction, medication side effects, or muscle breakdown. Muscle breakdown may occur when people lay around for too long without moving, or they exert their muscles too much.
- Sodium – Another important electrolyte, sodium can be increased or decreased abnormally. If this happens to quickly, the effects could be devastating. A patient could die from low or high sodium. There are countless causes of changes in sodium. Doctors often check sodium when getting labs to rule out all of these causes.
- Total bilirubin – Bilirubin is the byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells. Like all cells in our body, our red blood cells also die. When they die, they are made into bilirubin through a cycle. The bilirubin then travels through our livers and gallbladders. Elevated bilirubin may indicate a liver or gallbladder issue.
- Total protein – Total protein measures the amount of albumin (discussed above) and globulin. Globulins play a vital role in the immune system. An elevation in this number could indicate inflammation or a bone marrow disorder. A decrease in this value could indicate kidney dysfunction, liver dysfunction, bleeding, malnutrition, inflammation, or genetic conditions.
- Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) – This is a liver enzyme. When elevated, it indicates liver dysfunction.
- Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) – Likewise, AST is also a liver enzyme. Again, when elevated, it is a sign of liver dysfunction. However, this is more specific than ALT in the sense that when it is elevated and has a 2:1 ratio to ALT, it indicates that alcohol excess is causing the liver dysfunction.
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) – This is an enzyme that is concentrated in the bone and the liver. When elevated, it can signify liver or bone disease.
How do I get these tests?
If you are interested in learning more about obtaining these laboratory tests and what they mean for your health, contact our anti-aging clinic today.