Your doctor has ordered some blood work for you. You look at the slip and it looks like a bunch of letters – CBC, RBC, LDH, FBS, etc. It is not a Scrabble game, they do mean something. Below is a very brief guide, as to what the letters mean on ‘basic’ blood tests. There are three main basic groupings of types of blood tests: a complete blood count, a metabolic panel and a lipid. However, there are also other specific tests for specific medical testing situations, which you can discuss with your doctor if he orders them.
A Complete Blood Count– (CBC): has several components used to evaluate your overall health and help identify a wide range of disorders. RBC / Red Blood Count – carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, WBC / White blood cells – also called leukocytes that-fight infections and other diseases, PLT / Platelets, also called thrombocytes -stops bleeding by clot formation. Hb / Hemoglobin – a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, HCT / Hematocrit – a measurement of how much of your blood is made up of red blood cells. [sometimes referred to as an H&H ]
Metabolic Panel – with many components – a blood test providing information about your body’s metabolism, or how your body uses food for energy. It gives a snapshot of the health of your kidneys, blood sugar levels, and the levels of key electrolytes. This is a test you must ‘fast’ for before test is done. BUN / blood Urea Nitrogen and Creatinine – kidney function – waste products removed from your blood by your kidneys, indicating how well your kidneys are functioning, FBS / Fasting Blood Sugar – sugar metabolism; your body’s main source of energy; [Hyperglycemia – sugar levels are too high; Hypoglycemia – blood sugar levels are too low], Albumin –a protein made in the liver, and a large group, called: Electrolytes – electrically charged minerals that help control the amount of fluids and the balance of acids and bases in your body: K+ / Potassium – Potassium helps your muscles work and controls your breathing. Any extra potassium is removed from your blood by your kidneys. However, when you have kidney disease, they can’t remove this extra potassium, so you will have too much in your blood – heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea/vomiting, NA / Sodium – is a mineral that is important for ensuring your blood, cells, and tissue have enough water to function properly, too little water and too much NA – dehydration, muscle weakness, extreme thirst, confusion, lethargy, etc… CO2/ Carbon Dioxide – shows your carbon dioxide levels and how well your lungs and kidneys are working, Cl-/ Chloride – shows how your body is managing fluids, and CA+ / Calcium – one of the body’s most important minerals, it is essential for proper functioning of your nerves, muscles, and heart, and keeps bones strong and ensures your blood clots properly.
A Lipid Panel – be sure to ask your doctor before your test whether you need to fast – (not eat) before a test for HDL – high-density lipoprotein ‘good’ / “Healthy” cholesterol, and LDL – low-density lipoprotein ‘bad’/ “Lousy” cholesterol, assesses your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. The results of these blood tests, and any other tests the doctor has ordered, and their significance relating to your health, should be discussed with your doctor.
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