abnormal blood work

The Simple Guide To Abnormal Blood Work

Abnormal blood work can be very confusing for most of us. Yet, regular blood testing is one of the most important ways to keep track of your overall physical well-being.

That being said, it can be a very difficult, expensive or time consuming thing to do.  If you have kids, a spouse, a full time job – it doesn’t leave much room for scheduling appointments, let alone driving to them.

Getting your blood tested from home is now possible and with high accuracy and affordability.  Meaning that consumers are now able to take control of their health through routine testing.

Getting tested at routine intervals can allow you to see the way your body changes over time and empower you to make informed decisions about your health.

How often should you get routine blood work?

Most doctors will say once a year is enough, merging it into your annual physical.

But this is the bare minimum. There are several serious reasons you may want to get blood tests more often than that:

You’re experiencing strange, persistent symptoms. These could include anything from persistent dry skin to abnormal weight gain to constant daytime fatigue.

You want to optimize your health. Knowing levels of various blood components, such as HDL and LDL cholesterol, can allow you to tweak your diet or fitness plan to minimize unhealthy habits (that you may not even realize are unhealthy). This can also maximize the nutrients you put in your body and more.

You want more motivation.  Data can have a magnetic way of driving us to do better.  Being able to visualize your health in a simple way gives you the power to change.  Accountability becomes a major driver since you are ordering and performing the tests.  Not to mention competing against others in your demographic, friends or family!

You want to reduce your risk of disease or complications. Regular blood tests can catch the warning signs of almost any disease early. Many heart, lung, and kidney conditions can be diagnosed using blood tests.

You are competing in sports. Athletes need to have an edge.  Understanding how their body is working on the inside allows them to fine-tune their training and recovery.  For example, ferritin, hs-CRP alongside others are excellent ways for sprinters & marathon runners. It can help determine on a deep level, how effective their rest, recovery, and training protocol has been.

You want control over your health data.  There is a growing trend of skepticism in American consumers around healthcare.  In turn, a growing body of individuals are wanting autonomy in collecting their data.  Some subgroups are known to “hoard” data and caution is advised as data overload can be confusing.  To both these individuals and their healthcare providers as well.  

Abnormal blood work can uncover issues that can impair your health both in the long term and the short term, however, it’s important you review such results with your personal healthcare team/doctor.

What are some routine tests and others I should ask about?

There are a lot of tests available and that can be confusing when choosing your at-home blood test.  However, here is a list of common tests that can tell you a lot about your current health. 

When tracked over time, blood testing can uncover trends through the year.

Some of the most common tests are:

Complete blood count (CBC)

Chemistry (basic metabolic) panel

Thyroid tests
Lipid tests (cholesterol, HDL, LDL)

Iron, vitamin D and other minerals or nutrients

Some other tests that you may want include:

hs-CRP for inflammation in your body which could lead to heart disease or stroke, A1C which can reveal prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) tests if you have multiple sexual partners or a new partner

Do some blood tests require fasting?

The short answer is yes. Especially if you want to avoid false abnormal blood work results.

While not every blood test requires fasting, it is important to take your tests at roughly the same time of day for consistency and reliability in results. 

We suggest between 7-9 am.  

Everything you eat and drink contains vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients that can cause the related levels in your blood to temporarily spike or drop.

When you are doing the test from home, fasting is easy.  Just wake up and perform the test.  Enjoy your breakfast right after!  All you need is 8 – 12 hours of no food or beverages (except for water).

Some common tests that may require fasting include:

cholesterol tests (total cholesterol, ldl, hdl, etc)

blood sugar tests (A1c,glucose, etc)

liver function tests (ggt, ast, alt, etc)

kidney function tests (creatinine, bun, albumin, etc)

basic metabolic panel (potassium, sodium, alt, bun, etc)

glucose tests (glucose)

A couple tests that require specific & consistent timing include:

Hormone tests (testosterone, estrogen, etc)

Cortisol tests (cortisol)

Abnormal blood work vs normal in 10 common tests provided by Lab Me:

Abnormal blood work can be confusing to understand.  In fact, it’s the most common reason for premature frustration and fear in patients around the globe.  Misinterpretation of abnormal blood work is also a leading cause of misdiagnosis and improper medication being prescripted.

Given this information, you can easily understand why tracking it over time makes sense in helping create a more complete understanding of your health.

At-Home CBC (with differential)

With Lab Me you can now do a CBC from the comfort of your own home.  We are proud to be the first in the world to offer this.  CBC stands for “complete blood count” and is the gold standard for routine check ups and first line diagnostics.  

The CBC looks at major cells in your blood.  Such as: red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), hemoglobin and hematocrit and platelets.  

A routine complete blood count (CBC) test checks for levels of 10 different components of every major cell in your blood: white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Important components measured by this test include red blood cell count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit.

Here’s the typical range of results:

ComponentNormal range
red blood cellsmen: 4.32–5.72 million cells/mcL; women: 3.90–5.03 million cells/mcL
white blood cells3,500 to 10,500 cells/mcL
platelets150,000 to 450,000/mcL
hemoglobinmen: 13.5–17.5 grams/deciliter (g/dL); women: 12.0–15.5 g/dL
hematocritmen: 38.8–50.0 percent; women: 34.9–44.5 percent

Abnormal blood work of these components may indicate:

Nutritional deficiencies

Lack of iron

Issues with bone marrow

Inflammation in tissues

Infection 

Conditions of the heart

Cancer

Be sure to follow up with your doctor if test results come back abnormal or “at-risk” to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel or Chem 14 

A basic metabolic panel (BMP) checks for levels of certain compounds in the blood, such as:

alt

ast

electrolytes

calcium

potassium

glucose

sodium

chloride

chloride

blood urea nitrogen (BUN)

carbon dioxide

creatinine

You should fast for at least 8 hours before performing a metabolic assessment of any type (basic or comprehensive).  

Worried about abnormal blood work results with your metabolic panel? 

Below are normal values for both a basic metabolic panel and comprehensive.

Basic Metabolic Panel

TestNormal range (adults 18-60 years old)Normal range (adults over 60 years old)Category
BUN (blood urea nitrogen)6-20 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood)8-23 mg/dLkidney test
creatinine0.9-1.3 mg/dL for men; 0.6-1.1 mg/dL for women0.8-1.3 mg/dL for men; 0.6-1.2 mg/dL for womenkidney test
glucose70-99 mg/dL70-99 mg/dLsugar metabolism
albumin3.4-5.4 g/dL (grams per deciliter of blood)3.4-5.4 g/dLblood protein
CO2 (carbon dioxide or bicarbonate)23-29 mEq/L (milliequivalent units per liter of blood)23-31 mEq/L (adults 61-90 years old); 20-29 mEq/L (adults over 90 years old)electrolyte panel
Ca+ (calcium)8.6-10.2 mg/dL8.6-10.2 mg/dLelectrolyte panel
Na+ (sodium)136-145 mEq/L132-146 mEq/L (adults over 90 years old)electrolyte panel
K+ (potassium)3.5-5.1 mEq/L3.5-5.1 mEq/Lelectrolyte panel
Cl- (chloride)98-107 mEq/L98-111 mEq/L (adults over 90 years old)electrolyte panel

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (Chem 14)

For a comprehensive metabolic panel or Chem 14, the following chart shows normal values:


High levelsLow levels
ALP• bile duct blockage• cirrhosis• gallbladder inflammation• gallstones• hepatitis• Paget’s disease• bone metabolism disorders• heart surgery• malnourished• mentzinc deficiency
ALT• cirrhosis• hepatitis• liver cancer• liver damageconsidered normal
AST• cirrhosis• heart conditions• hepatitis• mononucleosis• (mono)pancreatitisconsidered normal
Bilirubin• abnormal red blood cell destruction (hemolysis)• adverse medication reactions• bile duct blockage• Gilbert’s syndrome• hepatitisnot a concern

Why is low bilirubin not a concern?

Certain substances can cause abnormal blood results and lower bilirubin. However, there are no health conditions associated with low bilirubin.  

These substances include:

caffeine

nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (ibuprofen, aspirin)

Barbiturates

If you have consumed any of these within hours of taking your metabolic panel, your bilirubin will appear low.  

To avoid this, don’t take any of these substances for at least eight hours before a blood test. If your doctor has asked for you to get this test – she may have suggested other things to avoid.  It’s important to follow this advice strictly before testing.

Abnormal results may indicate kidney disease, diabetes, or hormone imbalances. Please follow up with your doctor immediately if any of the above is out of range.

Lipid Abnormal Blood Work vs. Normal

Lipid testing usually involves two primary components.  HDL and LDL.

high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol

low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol

HDL removes harmful substances from your bloodstream and assists the liver in metabolizing those substances into waste.  Because of this HDL coins the name “good cholesterol”.

LDL gets the name “bad cholesterol” because it creates build-up in arteries (plaque) which can increase the risk of developing heart disease.

You need to fast for at least 8 hours before taking this test.  Lab Me provides a very affordable and comprehensive lipid test that you can do from home.

Here are the ranges for each type:


HighLow
HDL> 60 mg/dLmen: < 40 mg/dL; women: < 50 mg/dL
LDL> 160 mg/dL< 100 mg/dL

Normal values vary by age.  Lab Me will automatically calculate these for you, however, here is a quick reference guide for abnormal blood work with lipid according to age:

Please note that the charts below are based on fasting and are labeled in mg/dL.

Cholesterol In Children

Total cholesterolHDL cholesterolLDL cholesterolTriglycerides
Good170 or lessGreater than 45Less than 110Less than 75 in children 0–9; less than 90 in children 10–19
Borderline170–19940-45110–12975-99 in children 0–9; 90–129 in children 10–19
High200 or highern/a130 or higher100 or more in children 0–9; 130 or more in children 10–19
Lown/aLess than 40n/an/a

Cholesterol For Adults


Total cholesterol
HDL cholesterolLDL cholesterolTriglycerides
GoodLess than 200 (but the lower the better)Ideal is 60 or higher; 40 or higher for men and 50 or higher for women is acceptableLess than 100; below 70 if coronary artery disease is presentLess than 149; ideal is <100
Borderline to moderately elevated200–239n/a130–159150–199
High240 or higher60 or higher
160 or higher; 190 considered very high
200 or higher; 500 considered very high
Lown/aless than 40n/an/a

Thyroid Blood Work

How well your thyroid is producing and reacting to certain hormones is done by having a thyroid function test performed.  It will look at how your thyroid is functioning and regulating the following:

Triiodothyronine (T3). Along with T4, this regulates your heart rate and body temperature.

T3 resin uptake (RU). This measures how well a hormone called thyroxine-binding globulin is binding.

Thyroxine (T4). Along with T3, this regulates your metabolism and how you grow.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This helps regulate the levels of hormones your thyroid releases.

Your thyroid helps regulate bodily functions like your mood, energy level, and overall metabolism.  Pretty amazing for such a small gland located in your neck!

Normal thyroid results are as follows:

  • T3:100–200 nanograms per deciliter of blood (ng/dL)
  • T3RU:depends on T3 levels (will be low if T3 levels are high, and vice versa)
  • T4: 5.0–12.0 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL)
  • TSH:0.4–4.0 milli-international units per liter of blood (mIU/L)

Many conditions such as thyroid growth issues, abnormal levels of testosterone or estrogen, and low protein levels can be a result of abnormal blood work around your thyroid.

HS-CRP Testing

When you are experiencing inflammation in the body, your liver will produce c-reactive protein (CRP). High CRP levels indicate inflammation from a variety of causes, including:

artery inflammation

rheumatoid arthritis

infection

heart disease

inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

lupus

cancer

Your risk of heart disease increases dramatically when your CRP levels are rising.

Abnormal blood work vs normal with CRP

< 1 mg/L: low risk

1–2.9 mg/L: intermediate risk

> 3 mg/L: high risk

> 10 mg/L: extremely high risk, and further testing should be done to diagnose high levels of inflammation in your body

Test your hs-CRP now (hs stands for high sensitivity and is much more reliable than just crp measurements).

Ensure that you check with your doctor immediately if your CRP levels are elevated or seem to be trending towards an elevated level.

Simply Detecting Abnormal Blood Work 

With Lab Me, you are able to affordably order and perform many of the tests above from your own home.  Lab Me uses a patented collection system that separates plasma from blood leading to a more accurate view of your inside health.

Lab Me isn’t a replacement for your healthcare provider.  We do not diagnose, treat or provide medical information.  Use Lab Me in conjunction with your healthcare team in order to create clarity around your health and its progression.

Skip the appointment scheduling, long drives, shuffling of schedules, and boring waiting rooms.
Order your at-home test today and take control of your health.  View all of our tests here.

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