How to Read Blood Test Results

It does matter if you are a marathon maven or a CrossFit champion, you should never overlook the importance of getting a regular checkup. While many people understand the importance of getting a regular checkup, they still have little information about how to read blood test results. By getting information about how to read these tests, you will get an idea about how well your organs are working. Keep reading to discover more.

Blood Test Measurements

Before going any further, you need to have clear knowledge about measuring units used for different blood tests. Here are some of the terms and their meanings:

Measuring Unit

Meaning

fL (femtoliter)

Fraction of one-millionth of a liter

Cmm

Cells per cubic millimeter

g/Dl

Grams per deciliter

mEq/L

Milliequivalent per liter

IU/L

International units per liter

mL

Milliliters

Ng/mL

Nanograms per liter

Pg (picogram)

One-trillionth of a gram

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The CBC test helps evaluate your health by measuring three types of blood cells – white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. You need to know about blood cells to learn how to read blood test results.

White Blood Cell (WBC)

Normal range: 4,300-10,800cmm

Your CBC test will show the white blood cell count that will help evaluate the performance of your immune system. Also called leukocytes, white blood cells increase in number when there is an infection in your body.

WBC Differential Count

There five types of white blood cells, including eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and monocytes. The blood test measures the shapes, numbers, and sizes of these different types of white blood cells. The WBC differential helps find out if the numbers of different cells are in proportion to each other. Any irregularity here indicates inflammation, anemia, autoimmune disorders, infections, or other health concerns.

Normal values of WBC differential count

Normal Values of WBC Differential Count

Neutrophils

40%-60%

Lymphocytes

20%-40%

Monocytes

2%-8%

Basophils

0.5%-1%

Red Blood Cell (RBC)

Normal range: 4.2-5.9 million cmm

The role of red blood cells is to deliver oxygen to tissues in your body. You may have high RBC counts due to kidney problems, dehydration, or a heart condition. On the other hand, low RBC counts may indicate nutritional deficiency, anemia, kidney problems, or bone marrow damage. Here is more about red blood cells that will help you understand how to read blood test results properly:

  • Hemoglobin: Red blood cells can carry oxygen due to a protein called hemoglobin. The normal range for hemoglobin in men is 13-18g/dL and 12-16g/dL for women. It is important to measure hemoglobin in your blood to determine if your tissues and organs are receiving enough O2.
  • Hematocrit: The measurement shows the number of red blood cells in the volume of blood. Your hematocrit is normal if you are a man and have it between 45% and 52%. The normal range for women is between 37% and 48%.
  • Mean corpuscular value: The test measures the average side of red blood cells – corpuscle is just another name for blood cell. Abnormal-size red blood cells may indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. Your test is considered normal if it falls between 80 and 100 femtoliters.
  • Mean corpuscular hemoglobin: It is measurement of the average amount of hemoglobin present inside RBCs. It is not uncommon to evaluate it along with the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration. The normal range is between 28% and 36%.
  • Red cell distribution width (RDW): The test provides an idea about the size and shape of red blood cells. In this case, width does not refer to the size of the cells, but it indicates measurement of distribution. Your test value is normal if it is between 11% and 15%. Abnormal values may indicate anemia, liver disease, nutritional deficiencies, and other health conditions.
  • Platelets and mean platelet value (MPV): Platelets are actually fragments of blood cells and help prevent excessive bleeding and heal wounds. The normal value is between 150,000 and 400,000mL. If your platelet count is below 150,000 mcL, it increases your risk for excessive bleeding. High platelet count increases risk for blood clots.
  • The mean platelet value: The test shows the average amount of platelets in your blood. If it is outside the normal range, which is between 7.5 and 11.5 femtoliters, this means you have an underlying disorder.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)

Comprehensive metabolic panel or chemistry panel tests the sugar/glucose level, balance of electrolyte and fluid, liver and kidney function. The information in the chart below will be of great help if you want to learn how to read blood test results.

 

Normal Range

Description

ALT (alanine aminotransferase)

8-37 IU/L

The test provides information about the liver enzyme ALT. If your test result is outside of the normal range, it usually indicates liver damage.

Albumin

3.9-5.0 g/dL

Your liver makes this protein, and high albumin levels usually indicate kidney or liver problems.

A/G ratio (albumin/globulin ratio)

Over 1, favoring albumin

Your blood has two types of protein – globulin and albumin. This test compares the levels of both these proteins to help identify any health condition that needs attention.

Alkaline phosphatase

44-147 IU/L

It is the enzyme present in bone and liver, and abnormal results indicate bone or liver related problems.

AST

10-34 IU/L

Found in the heart and liver tissue, the measurement of this enzyme helps identify problems related to heart and liver.

Bilirubin

0.1-1.9 mg/dL

Its measurement helps identify problems related to kidney and liver function, such as anemia.

BUN (blood urea nitrogen)

10-20 mg/dL

This helps measure liver and kidney functions. If you have high values, you may have kidney problems; however, high protein diet and excessive use of medications may also affect your test results.

BUN/Creatinine ratio

10:1-20:1

It provides information if your kidneys are getting rid of waste properly. High levels of creatinine mean your kidneys are not excreting waste properly.

Calcium

90-10.5 mg/dL

High values may indicate kidney problems, certain types of cancer, and overly active thyroids. A deficiency of vitamin D may also raise levels of calcium in bloodstream.

Chloride

98-106mEg/L

Usually measured as part of an electrolyte panel, abnormal values show an overly acidic environment in your body. It may also happen due to multiple myeloma, dehydration, adrenal gland dysfunction, or kidney disorders.

Fasting glucose

70-99mg/dL

You may get high test values if you take certain medications, are under stress, or have ingested sugar in your body just recently.

Phosphorus

2.4-4.1 mg/dL

High levels of phosphorus in body mean you may have kidney problems. This may happen due to long-term antacid use, alcohol abuse, malnutrition, or excessive intake of diuretics.

Potassium

3.7-5.2 mEg/L

It helps maintain proper muscle functions, relay nerve impulses, and regulate heartbeats. You may have high levels due to high blood pressure drugs and diuretics.

Sodium

135-145 mEg/L

It helps maintain a balance in water levels and aids with muscle contractions and nerve impulses. High levels may be the result of excessive intake of corticosteroids, salt, and pain-relieving medications.

Lipid Panel (or Lipid Profile)

When your doctor orders a lipid profile, they ask for a collection of tests that measure different types of cholesterol as well as triglycerides or fats in your blood.

1. Total Cholesterol

You have good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) in your body, and a total cholesterol test measures the levels of both types of cholesterol.

2. Triglycerides

Triglycerides are fats found in your blood and are often responsible for causing heart disease with many other health problems. The normal range is between 40 and 160 mg/dL.

3. HDL (Good) Cholesterol

HDL is the short form of high-density lipoprotein and is good cholesterol. It helps protect you against heart disease. If your score is lower than 40mg/dL, it means you are at a greater risk of developing heart disease.

4. LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

LDL or low-density lipoprotein is bad cholesterol and clogs your arteries that increases risk for developing heart disease. You should aim to keep your LDL cholesterol below 100mg/dL.

5. Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio

The ratio tells a lot about your risk for heart disease. It is obtained by dividing your good cholesterol value into total cholesterol.

 
 
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