I recently had a blood and urine test done as part of an application for some additional life insurance and disability. I thought just telling them that I was an Ironman would be enough…but they wanted to do the blood and urine profile anyway.
The results of the test arrived in the mail the other day. There were lots of things on there that I understood…and several that I didn’t. So I thought that I would review the results on here, maybe giving someone else a little insight as to exactly what some of the common things tested are and what the results mean. Some of the results are in units called mg/dl. This is short of milligrams per deciliter. In these results it will be milligrams of whatever substance is being tested for per deciliter of blood. Other were in U/L. This is units per liter.
First on the list was Glucose. With a history of diabetes in my family, keeping an eye on my glucose is something that I should probably do more often. This test is used to determine the amount of glucose in the blood. The test that I had done was a fasting one, done 12+ hours after my last meal. My glucose level was 62 mg/dl. Anything below 100 mg/dl is considered normal. If I was in the 101-125 mg/dl range, this would mean that I would need to monitor my blood sugar a little closer. Anything above 126 mg/dl would be really high and would cause me to have another test done. I am pretty strict with my diet and very rarely eat sugar. If my glucose level was higher than normal after fasting, it would be a good indicator that my body was not producing enough insulin.
The next test on the list was something called BUN. This is short of Blood Urea Nitrogen. It is used to evaluate kidney function and help diagnose kidney disease. My result was 15 mg/dl. Normal human blood should contain between 7 and 21 mg or urea nitrogen per 100 ml (7-21 mg/dl) of blood.
The next test was call Creatinine. This is another test used to assess kidney function. Creatinine is a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism. Creatinine is produced from Creatine, a molecule of major importance for energy production in muscles. You may have heard of creatine before – lots of body-builders and athletes take a Creatine supplement to try and stimulate muscle growth. The kidneys filter out most of the creatinine and dispose of it in the urine. Elevated levels of Creatinine would signify impaired kidney function or kidney disease. My results were 1.2 mg/dl. Normal range is 0.5-1.5 mg/dl.
Next was a test for Alkaline Phosphatase. This test is used to detect liver disease or bone disorders. In conditions that affect the liver, damaged liver cells release high amounts of Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) into the blood. This test is often used to detect blocked bile ducts. If one or more of the bile ducts is blocked, for example by a tumor, then the blood levels of ALP will be high. My results were 47 U/L. Normal range is 30-115 U/L.
They also tested for something called Bilirubin Total. This is another test for liver or gallbladder problems. Elevated levels can mean cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, gallstones or cancer of the pancreas or gallbladder. My results were 0.3 mg/dl. Normal is 0.1-1.2 mg/dl.
Now comes some test with really complicated names. The first was serum glutamic oxalacetic transaminase (SGOT). This measures for enzyme present in tissues with high metabolic activity. This enzyme is normally found in the liver, heart muscles, muscles and red blood cells. When these cells sustain damage, they release this protein enzyme into your blood. If your levels are high, it could mean a problem with your liver, or that some medications you are currently taking are damaging your liver. My results were 32 U/L. Normal range is 0-41 U/L.
A similar test for liver problems is the Serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT). This test is more specific for liver necrosis. This particular enzyme is very concentrated in the liver. Elevated levels could indicated alcoholism, liver congestion, etc. My results were 31 U/L. Normal is 0-45 U/L. I guess the Bourbon Chase didn’t do too much damage to my liver!!
Another test to check for liver disease and/or alcoholism is called Gamma-glutamyl (GGT). My results were 44 U/L. Normal is 2-65 U/L.
Total Proteins were also tested. Protein levels in the blood can tell you a lot. They become increased in dehydration or multiple myeloma..and can indicate a weak immune system caused by chronic inflammation. A decreased level of proteins can indicated kidney disease, liver disease, poor nutrition, or celiac disease. My level was 7.7 G/dl. Normal is 6.0-8.5 G/dl.
Next up was Albumin. Albumin holds water in blood. Albumin testing is used to help diagnose disease or to monitor change in health status with treatment or with disease progression. It is typically used along with the BUN and Creatinine tests to evaluate kidney function and nutritional status. Low levels can suggest liver disease, inflammation and malnutrition. High levels can be seen with dehydration; although this test is usually not used to monitor or detect dehydration. My level was 5.4 G/dl. Normal is 3.0-5.5 G/dl.
Globulins are proteins active in immunity. It’s the antibody protein important for fighting disease. My level was 2.3 G/dl, normal is 2.0-4.0 G/dl. If my levels were low, it might indicate acute infection, chronic inflammatory disease or hyper-immunization.
Triglycerides were one of the things that I actually recognized. This test is used to monitor risk factors for heart disease. Elevated levels can be caused by being overweight, physically inactive, smoking, alcohol consumption, type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, or just plain genetics. High levels of triglycerides are bad news, so thankfully mine were 62 mg/dl, with normal being in the 10-150 mg/dl range.
Next was the good ol’ Cholesterol test. In my opinion this is a blood test done too often with results that scare people unnecessarily. This test is used to evaluate risk of heart disease. The issue here is not what the results say, but what do they mean. I like to group “Cholesterol” with “Fat”. Both are seen as very negative things, but in reality they are things that are needed by the body to remain healthy. If someone has “high” levels of cholesterol, they are told to avoid red meat, eggs, butter, etc. Problem is, these are good fats that the body needs. Cholesterol is also found in processed sugars, processed carbohydrates and other packaged foods, but you never hear of doctors telling people to avoid this stuff. The other thing that doctors will do for people with high cholesterol is to prescribe a drug (i.e. Lipator). Problem is, if you drive your levels too low with a drug, your body quits producing hormones, without stopping the root cause of the high cholesterol…which is generally a bad diet. The reality is that it’s about the whole balance of your entire diet that determines how you actually are affected by things in your food. And how you’re actually affected with inflammation and how your cells react to every single thing that you eat. It all requires your body getting the proper nutrients and avoiding non-whole foods. With all that being said, my cholesterol level was 172 mg/dl. Normal is 140-200 mg/dl. My LDL was 94 mg/dl and my HDL was 66 mg/dl. My Cholesterol/HDL ratio was 2.6. A ratio that I feel is more important than the cholesterol numbers alone is the triglyceride-HDL ratio. My ratio was 62/66, or 0.939. Anything under 2 is good. This means that I’m burning fat efficient.
So there you have it. Lots of inforrmation, but the good news is that all of my tests came back in the “normal” range…so I guess I’ll just keep in doin’ what I’m doin’!