Health Care

5 Things a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Can Uncover

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You’re at your annual physical and your doctor writes a script for a comprehensive metabolic panel. So, what is your doctor looking for? The truth is, many people don’t ever know. So we have some insight to help ease your mind about this important lab test.

What a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Can Reveal

A comprehensive metabolic panel is a group of blood tests that tell your doctor about your body’s chemical balance, fluids and metabolism function. This panel is able to be performed both fasting and non-fasting. If fasting is requested by your physician, it means no eating or drinking for at least eight hours before the test. This may be critical to get accurate results.

A metabolic panel can measure the function of these important indicators of whole health:

  • Kidney and liver function

Your liver breaks down harmful substances for your body to excrete via feces. The kidneys filter out blood by-products that are excreted via urine. These indicators in your metabolic panel can tell your doctor if your body’s filters are working properly.

  • Blood sugar

Your blood sugar levels will indicate if your body is metabolizing glucose (sugars) properly. If your levels are elevated, it might indicate diabetes.

  • Calcium levels

Too much calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia) can weaken your bones, cause kidney stones and affect heart and brain function. This can be caused by overactive parathyroid glands.

  • Sodium, potassium and chloride levels (electrolytes)

Electrolytes disorders can happen with a loss of bodily fluids, but medications can cause electrolyte disorders too. This test can help tell your doctor about how well you are hydrated and if you have adverse medication side effects.

  • Protein levels

Proteins are the building blocks for cells and tissues in your body and therefore help regulate many body functions. This test can measure the total amount of important proteins in your blood.

Normal Value Ranges for Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Results

While the comprehensive metabolic panel can test more values, some of the most common tests with their normal values are below.

  • Potassium: 3.5 to 5.0 mmol/L
  • Sodium: 135 to 145 mmol/L
  • Chloride: 98 to 110 mmol/L
  • Glucose: 70 to 100 mg/dL
  • Calcium: 8.5 to 10.5 mg/dL
  • BUN (blood urea nitrogen): 5 to 25 mg/dL
  • CO2 (carbon dioxide): 24 to 32 mmol/L
  • Albumin: 3.2 to 5.5 g/dL
  • Total protein: 6.0 to 8.0 g/dL
  • Total bilirubin: 0.1 to 1.5 mg/dL
  • Alkaline phosphatase: 14 to 127 U/L
  • ALT (alanine aminotransferase): 4 to 51 U/L
  • AST (aspartate aminotransferase): 5 to 46 U/L

If you have abnormal results with your comprehensive metabolic panel, your doctor might order additional tests to determine the cause. For example, if you have high blood glucose, you might need further diabetes screenings.

Tracking Your Numbers for Better Health

If your lab results are in a healthy range, you might never see your numbers. So, it’s important to actively seek them and keep records of your health throughout all of life’s stages.

Taking an active role in your health is important. If you track your own numbers over time, you might start identifying trends even if changes occur within healthy ranges you can talk with your doctor about them. For example, if you see your liver enzymes went up towards the higher range of normal compared to last year’s values, you might talk to your doctor about what that could mean for your health.

Want to manage your whole health? Download the AdventHealth app and see all of your test results in one place.

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