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Lab Results

Decoding Your Lab Results

Lab tests play an important role in your healthcare. The results can be used to rule out certain conditions or diseases, and they can also be used to determine if a disease or condition that you may already have is getting better or worse. But lab results are often shown as a set of numbers known as a reference range, which can be hard to understand.

So, here’s a guide you can use to shed some light on what your results mean to your overall health.

Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol levels

Why They Matter

Keeping your cholesterol levels in check is important for a healthy heart and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sedentary Lifestyle

What Affects Them

Smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, prescription drugs, genetics

HDL

HDL Cholesterol

The “good” cholesterol levels; the higher the number, the better.

LDL

LDL Cholesterol

The “bad” cholesterol levels; keep them as low as possible. LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides

The most common type of fat in the body. High levels might indicate a build-up of fat deposits on your artery walls, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Total Blood Cholesterol

Total Blood Cholesterol

A number determined by adding your HDL and LDL levels with 20% of your triglyceride levels. An optimal score is less than 180 milliliters per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

Why They Matter

To monitor kidney and liver function and electrolyte levels.

Large quantities of meat

What Affects Them

Eating large quantities of meat, taking certain medications.

Glucose

Glucose

Sugar in your blood. High numbers can indicate diabetes or pancreatitis; low numbers can indicate liver disease.

Blood Urea Nitrogen

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)

A waste product carried from the liver to the kidney and filtered out of the blood. Levels of urea nitrogen are one marker on how well your kidneys are working. A 7-20 mg/dL is considered normal, A low number might mean malnutrition; a high number can indicate kidney or liver disease.

Creatinine

Creatinine

Creatinine levels in the blood can vary depending on age, race and body size. A creatinine level of greater than 1.2 for women and greater than 1.4 for men may be an early sign that the kidneys are not working properly. As kidney disease progresses, the level of creatinine in the blood rises.

Albumin

Albumin

Protein that helps prevent fluid from leaking out of blood vessels and distributes nutrients throughout the body. A normal range for adult men is 3.5-5.0 g/dL, but the range may be slightly different for women. Low numbers indicate liver or kidney disease. Higher albumin levels may be caused by acute infections, burns, and stress from surgery or a heart attack.

Bilirubin

Bilirubin

Digestive fluid produced by the liver that shows up as a pigment in the bile. A normal range is 0.1-1.0 mg/dL. A high number might mean liver disease or bile duct disorder.

Complete Blood Count

Complete Blood Count

Why They Matter

To measure essential blood function.

Infection

What Affects Them

Infection, disease

White Blood Cell Count

White Blood Cell Count

White blood cell counts vary, but the normal range is usually between 4,000 and 11,000 per microliter of blood. A white blood cell count of less than 4,000 per microliter could mean your body may not be able to fight infection the way it should.

Red Blood Cell Count

Red Blood Cell Count

How well your body delivers oxygen to tissues throughout the body. A high number could indicate congenital heart disease. The normal RBC range for men is 4.7 to 6.1 million cells per microliter (mcL). The normal RBC range for women who aren’t pregnant is 4.2 to 5.4 million mcL

Hemoglobin

Hemoglobin

The pigment in red blood cells that carries oxygen. A low count can indicate diseases such as cancer, cirrhosis, leukemia or iron deficiency anemia. A normal range for a man is 13.5-17.5 grams/dL or 135-175 grams/L; a normal range for a woman is 12-15.5 grams/dL or 120-155 grams/L.

Platelet Count

Platelet Count

Blood cells responsible for clotting. Low numbers are associated with lupus and both low and high numbers can indicate leukemia. A normal platelet count is 150-450 billion/L or 150,000-450,000/mcL.

*Lab result terminology, ranges and interpretation can vary by lab. Please consult your physician with any questions.
Your provider will likely also include a physical exam, health history and other tests and procedures to help guide diagnosis and treatment decisions.

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