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April 19, 2022 | Blood Tests

5 Common Blood Tests and What They Measure

Medical professional looking at blood samples

Did you know that 70% of medical decisions depend on laboratory test results?1

That’s a lot of decision-making based on what’s in your blood.

Yes, blood tests help healthcare providers understand your overall health, but they also can check for diseases and medical conditions, see how treatments are working, and get a better understanding of how your organs are performing2.

There are countless laboratory tests that can be run on your blood work. You probably never gave it a second thought the last time your blood was drawn but do you even know what some of the most common blood tests are and what they measure?

What is a CBC test?

The complete blood count (CBC) test is one of the most common blood tests healthcare providers order1. A CBC test measures many different parts of your blood and evaluates levels of the following2:

  • Red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Red blood cell levels that are higher or lower than normal could be a sign of dehydration, anemia, or bleeding.
  • White blood cells. White blood cells are part of your immune system, which fights infections and diseases. Levels that are higher or lower than normal could be a sign of infection, blood cancer, or an immune system disorder.
  • Platelets are blood cell fragments that help your blood clot. They stick together to seal cuts or breaks on blood vessel walls and stop bleeding. Platelet levels that are higher or lower than normal may be a sign of a clotting disorder or a bleeding disorder.
  • Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Hemoglobin levels that are lower than normal may be a sign of anemia, sickle cell disease, or thalassemia.
  • Hematocrit is a measure of how much space red blood cells take up in your blood. Levels that are too high might mean you’re dehydrated. Low hematocrit levels may be a sign of anemia.
  • Mean corpuscular volume (MCV). MCV is a measure of the average size of your red blood cells. Levels that are lower than normal may be a sign of anemia or thalassemia.

What is a basic metabolic panel?

The basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a group of tests that measures different naturally occurring chemicals in the blood3. A BMP test provides information about your body’s chemical balance and metabolism. A BMP measures the following levels:

  • Glucose
  • Calcium
  • Sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide and chloride
  • BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and creatine

A BMP is used to look at kidney function, fluid and electrolyte balance, blood sugar levels, acid and base balance, and metabolism. While a fairly common test for everyone, those who suffer from chronic conditions including high blood pressure and kidney disease may get a BMP test more frequently3.

What is a comprehensive metabolic panel?

A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) builds on the BMP by evaluating more substances in your blood. In addition to the substances above in a BMP, the CMP measures4:

  • Albumin
  • Protein
  • ALP (alkaline phosphatase), ALT (alanine transaminase), and AST (aspartate aminotransferase)
  • Bilirubin

These additional substances evaluate liver function and protein levels, while the BMP focuses on your heart and kidneys. High levels of any of the substances could indicate liver disease, kidney failure, or diabetes4.

What is a lipoprotein panel?

A lipoprotein panel, or lipid panel, measures the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. A lipid panel measures2:

  • Total cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which is the “bad” cholesterol that causes blockages in arteries
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) which is the “good” cholesterol your body needs
  • Triglycerides which are a type of fat in the blood

A lipid panel is helpful in understanding heart health and to see if there is an increased risk of heart disease.

What are thyroid function tests?

Hormones produced by the thyroid help your body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working properly. There two most common thyroid function tests are:

These thyroid function tests check for thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism, and help to demonstrate how your thyroid is working.

Where to get a blood draw?

Since these are all common blood tests, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a location when you have a lab test order from your healthcare provider. If you’re not sure where to go for a blood draw or simply want the most convenient option available, let Scarlet® meet you where you are, whether at home or work.

Sources

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dls/strengthening-clinical-labs.html
  2. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/blood-tests
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/basic-metabolic-panel-bmp/
  4. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/comprehensive-metabolic-panel-cmp/
  5. https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-function-tests/

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