How do you read blood test results?


Quick Answer

Read blood test results by understanding what each category measures, and compare the returned values with the expected range, states Amarillo Medical Specialists, LLP. Laboratory technicians check blood samples for several constituents, including electrolytes, enzymes, glucose, proteins and fats. Values outside the normal range don't always indicate a health problem.

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Full Answer

Electrolyte measurements reveal your potassium, chloride, sodium and carbon dioxide levels, explains Amarillo Medical Specialists. Sodium and potassium levels outside the normal range may indicate kidney problems, and low carbon dioxide measurements result from increased acidity or hyperventilation. Enzymes are proteins that assist the chemical processes in cells, and abnormal readings may indicate liver problems, heart disease or skeletal muscle disease, Enzymes are usually noted on blood tests as acronyms, such as SGPT, ALT, GGT, SGOT and AST.

Glucose measures your blood sugar levels, and high readings indicate diabetes or a recent meal, according to Amarillo Medical Specialists. Proteins called globulin and albumin are general indicators of your health and nutrition; globulin is an essential immune system protein. Cholesterol and triglycerides are blood fats, and high cholesterol levels may indicate cardiovascular disease or atherosclerosis, while high levels of triglycerides sometimes point to pancreatitis and heart disease. Beneficial cholesterol is referred to as HDL, while LDL and VLDL are potentially harmful fats that lead to clogged blood vessels.

Numerous factors affect the expected numerical ranges on a blood test, and 5 percent of healthy patients receive results that fall outside normal parameters, notes Amarillo Medical Specialists. Blood tests measure several other substances, such as white and red blood cells, waste products, thyroid hormones and antibodies, and minerals.

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