What Is a Blood Chemistry Screening?
Blood Chemistry Screening is a comprehensive blood test that gives a general overview of your health. This screening checks your major systems which can put you at increased risk of complications from COVID-19 – including cholesterol levels for heart health, tests for kidney liver health and the chance of becoming diabetic, etc.
What is the Blood Chemistry Screening Telling Me About My Body?
This test provides 28 levels of information regarding several aspects of your body, including heart health, diabetes risk, liver and kidney function and more.
Cholesterol – An essential blood fat found in nearly every body tissue. Elevated levels have been shown to be associated with a higher risk of heart disease and clogged blood vessels. If elevated, the result should be discussed with your health care provider.
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio – Obtained by comparing the total cholesterol level to the HDL cholesterol level. The higher this number is, the higher your risk is of developing a cardiac disease and/or having a cardiac event such as a stroke or heart attack.
HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) – One of several types of fats. It is referred to as the “good cholesterol” because it acts as a scavenger, removing excess cholesterol from artery walls. It has been shown that the higher the level of HDL cholesterol the lower the risk of developing heart disease.
LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) – Part of the “total cholesterol.” This is the cholesterol that forms deposits on artery walls. The lower the amount of LDL cholesterol, the lower the risk of developing heart disease.
Triglycerides – A fatty substance in the body which acts as a major form of stored energy. This is a blood fat that may be related to a higher risk of heart disease. Elevated levels may be caused by food and alcohol. It is recommended that you not eat for at least 12 hours to obtain accurate results for this test. Low values are not generally considered significant.
Muscle Bone Function
Calcium – One of the most important elements in the body, essential for the maintenance and repair of bone and teeth, heart function and blood clotting. Of the calcium contained in your body, 99% is in your bones, with the remaining 1% in your blood. Low levels of calcium in the blood are associated with malnutrition. High levels can be caused by bone disease, excessive use of antacids and milk, cancer, overdosing on Vitamin D and some hormone disorders. Any elevated calcium level should be evaluated by your health care provider.
Magnesium – Helps regulate energy production in the cell. It is one of the most abundant metals in the body. A low magnesium level in the blood may indicate alcoholism, severe malnutrition, vomiting or diarrhea. High values may indicate kidney disease. As with all other abnormal results, any value outside the reference range should be reported to your health care provider.
Phosphate – Closely related to calcium in bone development, with most phosphates in the body found in bones. Very low levels of phosphate can be associated with starvation or malnutrition, leading to muscle weakness. High levels of phosphate are associated with kidney disease. Values outside the specified reference range should be reported to your doctor.
Chloride – One of the body’s minerals. Involved with water balance, most body chloride comes from salt in the diet. A high chloride level may mean severe dehydration, certain kidney disorders or hyperventilation. A low chloride level may result from excessive vomiting, diarrhea, severe burns, excessive sweating or kidney failure. Borderline low or high levels of chloride have very little significance.
Potassium – One of the body’s principal minerals, found primarily inside cells. It helps maintain water balance as well as proper function of nerves and muscles. Low or high levels in the blood are of critical significance and should be evaluated by your healthcare provider. This is especially important if you are taking a diuretic or heart medication. A high level may indicate kidney or liver disease, too much medication or bodily injury, such as a burn. A low level of potassium can develop rapidly, most frequently produced as a side effect of drugs that cause increased urination.
Sodium – One of the body’s principal minerals, regulated by the kidneys. It plays an important role in water balance in your body. A high level can be caused by dehydration, excessive salt intake in your diet or certain diseases. A low level of sodium can be caused by diarrhea, vomiting or excessive sweating. Numerous drugs, including diuretics, certain blood pressure medications and steroids, may alter sodium level. Any abnormal value should be evaluated by your doctor.
Glucose – The primary energy source for all body tissues. The sugars and carbohydrates you eat are ordinarily converted into glucose, which can be used to either produce immediate energy or be stored in the liver or as fat throughout the body. High blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) after fasting for 12 hours might indicate you have diabetes. Your doctor may want to do further testing. A low glucose level (hypoglycemia) accompanied by symptoms such as weakness, nausea, sweating and difficulty thinking clearly, is suggestive of hypoglycemia. Even if you know you have diabetes, it is important to report any abnormal levels to your health care provider.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) – The pituitary hormone that controls thyroid gland function. It stimulates the thyroid to produce the thyroid hormone. When the thyroid gland fails due to primary disease of the thyroid, pituitary TSH increases. This condition is called hypothyroidism. In contrast, when the thyroid gland is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone, the serum TSH decreases. This is called primary hyperthyroidism. Both primary hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be detected by the sensitive TSH method. In addition, the TSH test can tell if your dose of thyroid hormone is correct, should you be taking that medication. Thus, the most accurate way for 9Health:365 to assess abnormalities of thyroid gland function is by a measurement of TSH, technology with superior performance and decreased cost allows us to offer this test.
Red Blood Cell Function
Iron – The body must have iron to make hemoglobin and to help transfer oxygen to the cells. If the body is low in iron, all body cells, particularly muscles in adults and brain cells in children, do not function up to par. On the other hand, too much iron in the body can cause injury to the heart, pancreas, joints, testicles, ovaries, etc. Iron excess is found in the hereditary disease called hemochromatosis, which occurs in about 3 out of every 1,000 people. Any value outside the specified reference range should be evaluated by your doctor.
Uric Acid – A byproduct of the breakdown of the body’s own cells and certain proteins. A high level of uric acid in your blood may cause gout, arthritis or kidney stones. Kidney disease, stress, alcohol and certain diuretics may also raise the level. High levels should be evaluated by your healthcare provider, whereas low values are not generally considered significant.
Liver & Kidney Function
*Albumin – This is the most plentiful protein in the blood. Approximately two-thirds of the total protein circulating in your blood is albumin. It is produced primarily in the liver and helps keep the fluid protein of the blood within the blood vessels. When your albumin level is too low, water can leak into other parts of your body and cause swelling. This can be caused by malnutrition, too much water in the body, liver or kidney disease, severe injury or major bone fractures and slow bleeding over a long period.
*Alkaline Phosphatase – An enzyme found in many body tissues, but the most important sites are bone, liver, bile ducts and gut. A high level of alkaline phosphatase in your blood may indicate bone, liver or bile duct disease. Certain drugs may also cause increased levels. Low values are not generally considered significant.
ALT (Alaminine Aminotransference) – The ALT enzyme is found mainly in the liver. Damage from alcohol, strenuous exercise and several diseases can cause high values for both AST (SGOT) and ALT (SGPT) and should be evaluated by your health care provider. Low values are not generally considered significant.
AST (Apartate Aminotransference (SGOT) – This is an enzyme that is found in many body tissues, but the most important sites are bone, liver, bile ducts and gut. A high level of alkaline phosphatase in your blood may indicate bone, liver or bile duct disease. Certain drugs may also cause increased levels. Low values are not generally considered significant.
Bilirubin, Direct – A specific form of bilirubin that is formed in the liver and excreted in the bile. Normally, very little of this form of bilirubin is found in the blood. However, in liver disease, this form of bilirubin leaks into the blood, so a high level of direct bilirubin may indicate a problem with the liver cells.
Bilirubin, Total – This is the pigment in the blood that makes the plasma or serum part of your blood yellow. When the bilirubin level in the blood is very high for a period of time, the whites of your eyes and your skin may become yellow – this is known as jaundice. Bilirubin comes from the breakdown of old red cells in the blood. A high bilirubin level in the blood can be caused by too many red blood cells being destroyed by liver disease or by a blockage of bile ducts.
BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) – A waste product from protein breakdown in the liver. It is excreted by the kidneys. If kidney function is impaired, or if a person is dehydrated, the BUN level will increase. Internal blood loss, high protein diets, and/or strenuous exercise can also cause a high BUN level. A low BUN level may be the result of liver disease, poor diet, pregnancy or drinking too much water.
Creatinine – The main job of the kidney is to filter the blood, excreting waste products into the urine while preserving essential elements. One way to measure kidney function is to determine how well the kidney can filter and excrete creatinine, an easily measured waste product of muscle metabolism. In certain types of kidney disease, the ability of the kidneys to clear the blood of creatinine decreases and blood levels of creatinine increase. High values require medical evaluation by your doctor, especially when associated with high BUN results.
eGFR (Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate) – The best overall measure of how your kidneys are functioning. It is a calculation incorporating risk factors such as age, gender and ethnicity, and can screen for early kidney disease or associated cardiovascular disease. For a significant percentage of participants with mildly abnormal eGFR results, no underlying disease is present. Minimally abnormal eGFR should be retested in 4-6 weeks.
GGT (Gamma-Glutamyltransferase) – An enzyme that is primarily found in the liver. Drinking too much alcohol, certain drugs, liver disease, stress, physical exertion, some common medications and bile duct disease can cause high levels of GGT in the blood. High values should be evaluated by your health care provider.
*Globulins – Proteins that can be formed in the liver or the immune system. Globulins have many functions, transporting a variety of things such as fats and hormones and acting as infection fighters to help the body defend itself. If your globulin level is abnormal, your doctor may want to measure some of the individual proteins that make up this group.
*Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH or LD) – An enzyme found in all tissues in the body. A high level in the blood can result from several different diseases. Slightly elevated levels in the blood are common and usually do not indicate disease. The most common sources of LD are the heart, liver, muscles and red blood cells. Any damage to cells will raise the LD level in the blood.
*Protein, Total – A measure of the total amount of protein in your blood. A low or high total protein does not indicate a specific disease, but it does mean some additional tests may be required to determine if there is a problem.
*These also have multiple functions throughout the body.
Who May Want to Have a Blood Chemistry Screening?
Everyone! Whether you are feeling a little off or completely fine, this is always a good screening to get each year. By getting this screening every year and sharing your results with your medical provider, you both can keep track of your numbers from year to year. Even a slight change in your numbers can detect a health issue early on, and early detection is key.
Also, if you don’t already know your numbers, such as your cholesterol, you might want to think about getting this screening. And if diabetes runs in your family, this screening is a good way to monitor your glucose.
Always seek the advice of your doctor if you have questions about your results.