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  • Writer's pictureTanya Liscio

Decoding Your Health: A Guide to Understanding Blood Work Lab Values

A medical provider holding a blood vial
Blood work

In the realm of healthcare, blood work lab values serve as crucial indicators of your overall well being. These allow your provider to see what is happening on the inside and compare to what is being seen and/or felt on the outside. These values offer valuable insights into various aspects of your health and overall wellness. However, interpreting these results may seem like deciphering a secret code too many. In this blog post, we will break down some of the mystery surrounding blood work lab values and provide you with a guide to better understand what your results mean in case your Provider doesn't sit with you and explain them during your visits.

Understanding the Basics: Before delving into specific lab values, it's essential to understand the basic components of a typical blood test. Most annual or routine blood work typically includes a complete blood count (CBC), a metabolic panel, and additional tests based on individual health concerns. The CBC measures the components of red and white blood cells, while a metabolic panel assesses organ function, electrolyte levels, and blood sugar.

Key Blood Work Lab Values:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    1. Red Blood Cell Count (RBC): Reflects the number of red blood cells. Low levels may indicate anemia, cancer or other health conditions, while high levels could suggest dehydration, genetic dysregulation and other health conditions.

    2. White Blood Cell Count (WBC): Measures the number of white blood cells, indicating the body's immune and inflammatory responses. Elevated levels may signal infection, inflammation or other health conditions.

    3. Platelet Count: Evaluates blood clotting ability. Abnormalities may point to a bleeding disorder, bone marrow issues or other health conditions.

  2. Metabolic Panel:

    1. Glucose: Monitors a fasting blood sugar level in that one moment. This level is influenced by the last meal eaten, activity levels, medications and overall health. This lab value opens the conversation for looking at other lab tests that can show longer time periods of blood sugar levels to further evaluate for potential or existing diabetes.

    2. Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium): Maintaining the balance of these minerals is crucial for proper bodily functions. Imbalances can affect heart, hormone and muscle function.

    3. Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Creatinine and eGFR: Assess kidney function and filtration. Elevated levels may suggest acute or chronic kidney concerns related to hydration, health and disease processes.

  3. Lipid Panel:

    1. Cholesterol Levels (LDL, HDL): Measures the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Elevated LDL levels may increase the risk of heart disease, while high HDL levels are generally considered beneficial. Depending on family and personal health history additional cholesterol testing may be considered.

  4. Thyroid Panel:

    1. Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T4: Evaluates general thyroid function. Imbalances can lead to fatigue or anxiety, weight changes, mood swings and other health concerns. For abnormal values and family history, additional testing may be considered.

Tips for Interpretation:

  • Reference Ranges: Compare your results to the provided reference ranges as these ranges vary somewhat depending on which lab is performing the test. Values outside the range may warrant further investigation- be sure to follow up with your Provider regarding values outside of the posted range.

  • Context Matters: Consider your overall health, medical history, and symptoms when interpreting results. A single abnormal value may not necessarily indicate a problem and similarly a single normal value may not indicate proper health.

  • Consultation with a Healthcare Professional: Seek guidance from your healthcare Provider to fully understand your results. They can offer personalized insights based on your unique health profile.

A concierge medical member getting treatment
Tanya with a Precision Healthcare Client

Deciphering blood work lab values empowers individuals to actively participate in their healthcare journey. By understanding these key indicators, you can work collaboratively with your healthcare team to make informed decisions about your well-being. Remember, knowledge is a powerful tool, and being proactive in interpreting your blood work results contributes to a healthier, more informed you. If you don't feel that you have a health care team that has the ability to help you with these informed decisions, the Precision Healthcare Membership is the perfect solution for you. Click here to schedule your first visit!


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