How to Read Blood Test Results - Interpret Your Wellness Blood from Medical Check

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to your annual health check-up. And better still if we let the results guide our personal health care going forward, and especially acting on any signaling of advisable treatments. The range of readings is quite broad but here are seven you really must take stock off in particular:

1. Blood lipid level

Blood lipid testing determines the risk of cardiovascular disease and damage to cerebral veins. The test usually covers:

• Cholesterol – a lipid component of cell walls and a substance used to produce hormones. The reading should not exceed 200 mg/dL. Anything above 240 mg/dL indicates high risk of coronary heart disease.

• Triglycerides – a source of energy stored in fat cells. The level should be less than 150 mg/dL. Higher than 200 mg/dL indicates the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.

• Low-density Lipoprotein or LDL-Cholesterol – ‘bad’ fat that accumulates as cholesterol in the bloodstream on blood vessel walls, causing narrowing that can cause ischemic heart disease. The level should be less than 100 mg/dL.

• High-density Lipoprotein or HDL-Cholesterol – ‘good’ fat responsible for conveying cholesterol and fat accumulated in the wrong places to the liver to be broken down. The reading should be higher than 40 mg/dL for women and 50 mg/dL for men. Much less indicates increased risk of narrowing of arteries, potentially leading to arteriosclerosis.

2. Blood sugar level

A measure of the amount of sugar in the bloodstream used to determine the risk of developing diabetes. Should test for both blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c).

• Glucose is a single molecule of sugar that fuels cells. The level should be less than 100 mg/dL. Higher than 100 mg/dL indicates risk of diabetes. Higher than 126 mg/dL indicates probable diabetes, in which case two additional tests should be performed.

• Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c) is a measurement of protein in red blood cells, or “hemoglobin”, which carries oxygen to cells around the body. Hemoglobin chemically reacts with blood sugar to form HbA1c. As HbA1c has an average lifespan of 8-12 weeks, it’s a useful indicator of how much sugar has accumulated in the blood over the past month. Normal readings range 4.8% to 6.0%. Higher than 6.5, may indicate diabetes.

3. Uric acid blood level

The level of uric acid, or uric salt, obtained from a blood test is useful for determining the risk of gout. Normal levels don’t exceed 5 mg/dL for men and 8 mg/dL for women. Anything higher calls for a doctor’s diagnosis as to whether there is gout.

4. Complete blood count

Complete Blood Count (CBC) assesses the total volume of red blood cells in order to spot anemia. The red blood cell count should be between 4.6 – 6.0 x106 cell/mm3. Hemoglobin should be 13-18 mg/dL in men and 12-16 mg/dL in women. Hematocrit should be 40-54 mg/dL for men and 37-47 mg/dL for women. Anything lower indicates possible anemia.

5. Liver function

Two types of tests determine liver function. The first test involves checking SGOT and SGPT levels. Normal levels are around 40 U/L. Over 40 U/L may indicate hepatitis. The second test is for enzymes (alkaline phosphatase) in cells which may point to liver obstruction. Normal levels range 30-126 U/L. Over 280 U/L indicates possible cirrhosis, gallstones, or liver cancer.

6. Kidney function

Kidney performance is tested two ways:

• BUN, or Blood Urea Nitrogen indicates kidney performance by giving a reading on the nitrogen level from protein metabolism in the bloodstream as excreted through the kidneys. Normal levels range 10-20 mg/dL. Anything above points to impaired renal function.

• Creatinine tests for creatinine excretion. Creatinine is normally excreted in the urine, leaving a normal level of 0.6 – 1.2 mg/dL in the bloodstream. Anything higher, indicates impaired renal function. At 4 mg/dL it’s indicating serious kidney abnormalities.

7. Urine specific gravity test

Urine analysis is another useful indicator of health. The density or specific gravity of urine is measured as the concentration of urine in relation to the volume of water in the body. Normal levels are 1.010-1.020. Higher readings indicate dehydration. Lower readings either indicate over-consumption of water or ‘diabetes insipidus’.

Paying attention to the results of your annual health check-up gives you a good reading on your health and indicates anything more you need to do to look after it. If your readings are pointing to anything concerning, please see a doctor and strictly follow the advice they give about any lifestyle modifications and treatments necessary as that will ensure your continued wellbeing and good quality of life.

References

Paolo Hospital

Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University

Public Health Laboratory Office

Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University

Samitivej Hospital

Mayo Clinic