Have you ever noticed we use blood to signify things of great importance? From blood brothers and blood pacts, to tracing blood lines and even a certain Half-Blood Prince, it seems we’ve always understood the importance of blood in our lives - and for good reason. Blood plays an incredibly important role in our body.
Blood distributes oxygen, delivers nutrients to our organs, carries disease fighting cells to fight infections, and so much more. On top of that, it makes up nearly 7-8% of our overall body weight. That’s why when doctors want to get an understanding of what’s happening in your body, they’ll use a small sample of it to find out a lot about your health.
There are several blood tests that your doctor can use, and each one tests for their own conditions or illnesses, but one test in particular gives a detailed picture of everything from your metabolism to kidney and liver function: a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP).
Here’s a detailed look at what a CMP blood test is, how to prepare for one, and what the results mean for you and your health.
What Is a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)?
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a very thorough blood screening lab test designed to take fourteen different measurements, which provide insight into the overall health of the body, its chemical balance, and its metabolism. Because of how much information a CMP test provides, your doctor will typically order a CMP as part of your annual health and wellness checkup.
A CMP is also useful for monitoring your liver and kidney health and for diagnosing health conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure), liver disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. On top of that, a CMP also measures your levels of protein, potassium, sodium, glucose levels, and more.
It’s also important to note that a CMP is different from a basic metabolic panel (BMP), which is a laboratory test that only measures 8 different substances in the blood. It is also different from a complete blood count (CBC), which measures red and white blood cell count, hemoglobin, and platelet count.
How to Prepare for Your CMP Blood Test
Your doctor will likely provide you with a few instructions on how to prepare for a blood draw. These are meant to ensure the CMP blood draw not only runs smoothly, but also provides accurate results and leaves you with as little discomfort as possible. Here are a few suggestions:
- If your doctor has instructed you to fast before your test, you should not have any food for at least 8 hours before your test.
- Drink plenty of water so you will remain hydrated.
- If the blood draw is being performed at home with a Getlabs Specialist, make sure to secure your pets so that they will not interfere with your Specialist as they are entering, leaving, or performing your CMP test.
- Tell your Specialist if you have had prior complications with a blood test, (e.g., side effects such as severe bruising, fainting, or unusual pain.)
What to Expect from Your CMP Test
We all react differently to having our blood drawn. For some, it’s simply part of any routine medical visit. For others, it can be stressful and unsettling. Whichever way you react, understanding what to expect from a blood draw can help you relax and prepare.
Your blood sample will be taken in the following way:
- The Specialist will locate a suitable vein in your arm (usually the inner forearm).
- They will tie a tourniquet around your upper arm to help make the vein visible.
- A needle with a small test tube attached will be inserted into the vein.
- Once the sample has been taken, the needle and tourniquet will be removed, and the Specialist will apply pressure to the needle site before applying a dressing.
- You should leave the dressing on for at least fifteen minutes to give the wound time to seal.
What’s Being Measured in Your CMP Blood Test?
A CMP blood test measures 14 different substances in your blood and provides your physician with detailed information about your body’s balance and metabolism. Your CMP will test for:
- Glucose: Glucose is a blood sugar that the body converts to energy. A high blood sugar level may be an indicator of diabetes.
- Calcium: Calcium is essential for the proper functioning of your heart, muscles, and nerves. High or low calcium levels may be a sign of thyroid disease, kidney disease, or certain types of cancer.
- Sodium: Sodium is a form of electrolyte. An abnormal electrolyte balance could indicate hypertension or kidney stones.
- Potassium: Potassium is a form of electrolyte. High levels could cause fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and muscle cramps.
- Bicarbonate: A bicarbonate test measures how much carbon dioxide is present in your blood. Abnormal levels could indicate conditions such as kidney disease or liver failure.
- Chloride: Chloride is another electrolyte. High blood chloride levels may be caused by conditions such as kidney disease, excessive salt intake, or metabolic acidosis (an imbalance in the body’s acid-base balance).
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): A BUN test measures the performance of your kidneys.
- Creatinine: Creatinine is a waste product that is left over after the muscles produce energy. It is filtered from the blood by the kidneys. Along with a BUN test, a measure of creatine shows if the kidneys are functioning normally.
- Albumin: Along with protein, albumin is needed to build healthy muscle, organ tissue, blood, and bones. An abnormal albumin level may indicate a problem with the kidneys or liver.
- Total protein: Proteins are important for maintaining healthy blood, bones, muscles, and organs. Abnormal protein levels could indicate problems with the liver or kidneys or a nutritional imbalance.
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP): ALP is an enzyme that is found throughout your body. An ALP test measures the amount of ALP that comes from your liver and bones. Abnormal levels may indicate liver disease or certain bone disorders.
- Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT): ALT is found mainly in the kidneys and liver. High levels of this enzyme could indicate a liver problem that is a precursor to liver disease.
- Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST): An AST test checks for liver damage, such as that caused by cirrhosis.
- Bilirubin: Bilirubin is a substance that is produced during the normal breakdown of red blood cells. It is excreted from the body via the liver. This reveals the condition of liver functions.
How to Interpret Your CMP Test Results
The results of your CMP test may just look like a bunch of numbers, but these numbers provide an excellent overview of the health of your kidney and liver functions, as well as your electrolyte levels. Your doctor will walk you through the results and what they mean, but here is a breakdown of each of the measurements to help you better understand your CMP results.
- Glucose: Healthy fasting blood sugar levels should be less than 100. A measurement of 100-125 can be an indication of pre-diabetes, which means you could be at risk for becoming diabetic. If your level is above 125, you will be rescheduled for further testing.
- Calcium: Your blood calcium level may fluctuate in relation to the amount of protein in your body. If your test measures a level above 10.9, your physician may recommend further testing.
- Sodium: The healthy range for blood sodium is between 135 and 145 mEq/L. Higher levels may indicate high blood pressure. Lower levels may be a sign of kidney failure or certain types of cancer.
- Potassium: A healthy blood potassium level is 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). A high level could indicate a condition such as diabetes, kidney disease, or Addison’s disease. The use of diuretics could be a possible cause of low potassium levels.
- Bicarbonate: A healthy level of blood bicarbonate is 22-29 mEq/L. A level lower than 22 could indicate Kidney disease, Addison’s disease, or diabetic ketoacidosis.
- Chloride: A healthy range of serum chloride is 96 to 106 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Higher levels could indicate abnormal kidney function.
- Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): A healthy range is generally considered to be 6 to 24 mg/dL (2.1 to 8.5 mmol/L ), though this can vary slightly as BUN levels tend to increase with age. Higher levels could indicate kidney problems.
- Creatinine: A healthy level of blood creatinine is 0.74 to 1.35 mg/dL for men and 0.59 to 1.04 mg/dL for women. Higher levels could reveal early signs of kidney failure.
- Albumin: A healthy serum albumin level is 3.4 to 5.4 g/dL A lever level could indicate malnutrition. It could also be a sign of liver disease or an inflammatory disease.
- Total protein: A healthy blood protein level is 6 to 8 g/dl. If a protein test shows abnormal results, it could indicate a condition such as liver or kidney disease, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP): A healthy ALP level is 20 to 140 IU/L. Abnormal results could indicate problems with your liver, kidneys, or bones.
- Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT): Healthy ALT levels range from 29 to 33 IU/L for men and 19 to 25 IU/L for women. Abnormal results are typically associated with liver conditions such as cirrhosis or hepatitis.
- Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST): Healthy AST levels are between 8 to 33 U/L. Higher levels could indicate liver disease, heart disease pr pancreatic problems.
- Bilirubin: A healthy bilirubin level is up to 1.2 mg/dl. An elevated level may indicate liver problems.
Get Blood Tests Done in the Comfort of Your Home!
Getlabs provides the perfect solution for patients who prefer to take blood tests in the comfort of their homes. The advantages of home blood tests are numerous and include:
- No need to travel to the clinic
- No waiting in line to have your blood test
- Total privacy and confidentiality
- Accurate and quick results
Talk to your healthcare provider today about Getlabs home testing. We offer 5,000 different tests, all of which can be performed at home with one of our Getlabs Specialists.
Book your at-home CMP blood test today.
This page is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute the provision of medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice regarding any of the tests and conditions referenced above are advised to consult with a licensed clinician. Always seek the advice of your qualified health provider regarding a medical condition and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information on this page. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital.
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