Lab tests are an important part of preventive health care even if you are healthy. There are general and targeted lab tests to look into many indicators of health including organ function, diet, metabolism, illnesses, diagnosis of diseases.
Most doctors recommend yearly lab testing to monitor your general health. Mira offers four essential health panels you can order for same-day testing. No doctor visit required. Mira members can also receive $49 routine blood work, $25 lipid panels, $99 STD panel, $19 A1c, and $35 Vitamin D test - no hidden fees. Read on to learn more about how to interpret your lab test results.
Common Lab Tests
Depending on your age, symptoms, and family medical history, your doctor may recommend various lab tests to get a better idea of your current health status or diagnose diseases. If you are obese, have diabetes, smoke, or have other significant underlying health conditions, doctors may order more specific lab tests. Some baseline lab tests are explained below:
- Complete Blood Count: A complete blood count (CBC) test checks for levels of different components of every major cell in your blood. CBCs look at white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and plasma.
- Basic Metabolic Panel: Basic metabolic panels (BMP) assess electrolyte balance, as well as liver and lung function. Basic metabolic panels include 8 specific tests: glucose, calcium, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, chloride, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. Your doctor may ask you to fast for 10-12 hours before the test to get the most accurate results.
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) includes the same tests as a basic metabolic panel with the addition of liver panel tests. The liver panel includes 6 tests to look at proteins and liver enzymes. If you have a known liver condition, your doctor may suggest a comprehensive metabolic panel over the basic metabolic panel.
- Lipid Panel: Lipid panels test for both high-density lipoprotein (HDL), “good” cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), “bad” cholesterol. A lipid panel assesses your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Getting regular lab testing is an important way to manage your health and catch any diseases before they progress. Henry Harrison from BlueBiology explains, “If you are looking to reduce your risk of certain diseases and complications, then regular blood tests may be the answer for you. Standard blood tests have the ability to catch warning signs of a variety of diseases during onset. Cardiovascular disease, liver failure, and kidney conditions and diabetes can all be diagnosed and confirmed through blood testing.”
Lab Test Results
Lab test results are shown as a set of numbers called a reference range, which is the “normal” range results should be in for healthy individuals. If your lab test results are outside of the reference range, don’t panic. “Abnormal” results do not necessarily mean there is something wrong, but rather something to discuss with your doctor. It may be okay if some of your lab results are out of the reference ranges due to medications you are taking, family history, or pre-existing medical conditions.
Below are some other terms that may appear on your lab results:
- Negative or normal means the disease or substance being tested was not found in the test.
- Positive or abnormal means the disease or substance being tested was found in the test.
- Inconclusive or uncertain means there wasn't enough information in the results to diagnose or rule out a disease. If you get an inconclusive result, your doctor will probably recommend you get additional tests.
Normal Ranges For Lab Test Results
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set general guidelines for upper and lower limits for each type of lab test. Make sure to always discuss your results with a health care provider, as what constitutes a normal range varies slightly from person to person.
Below we present the normal ranges for a complete blood count, basic metabolic panel, comprehensive metabolic panel, and lipid panel.
Complete Blood Count Test Normal Ranges
|Red blood cells|
men: 4.32–5.72 million cells/mcL
women: 3.90–5.03 million cells/mcL
|White blood cells||3,500 to 10,500 cells/mcL|
|Platelets||150,000 to 450,000/mcL|
|Hemoglobin||men: 13.5–17.5 grams/deciliter (g/dL) women: 12.0–15.5 g/dL|
Complete blood count tests can be used to indicate:
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B-6 or B-12
- Iron deficiency
- Bone marrow issues
- Tissue inflammation
- Heart conditions
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Basic Metabolic Panel Normal Ranges
|Component||Normal range (adults 18-60 years old)||Normal range (adults over 60 years old)||Category|
|BUN (blood urea nitrogen)||6-20 mg/dL||8-23 mg/dL||kidney test|
|creatinine||Men: 0.9-1.3 mg/dL Women 0.6-1.1 mg/dL||Men: 0.8-1.3 mg/dL Women: 0.6-1.2 mg/dL||kidney test|
|glucose||70-99 mg/dL||70-99 mg/dL||sugar metabolism|
|CO2 (carbon dioxide or bicarbonate)||23-29 mEq/L (milliequivalent units per liter of blood)||adults 61-90 years old: 23-31 mEq/L adults over 90 years old: 20-29 mEq/L||electrolyte panel|
|Ca+ (calcium)||8.6-10.2 mg/dL||8.6-10.2 mg/dL||electrolyte panel|
|Na+ (sodium)||136-145 mEq/L||adults over 90 years old: 132-146 mEq/L||electrolyte panel|
|K+ (potassium)||3.5-5.1 mEq/L||3.5-5.1 mEq/L||electrolyte panel|
|Cl- (chloride)||98-107 mEq/L||adults over 90 years old: 98-111 mEq/L|
Basic metabolic panel tests for a variety of components to assess how well your body is functioning. Abnormal results can indicate problems with:
- Blood filtration
- Acid/base balance of your blood
- Blood sugar levels
- Electrolyte levels
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Normal Ranges
|ALP||20 to 130 U/L|
|ALT||4 to 36 U/L|
|AST||8 to 33 U/L|
|bilirubin||0.1 to 1.2 mg/dL|
Source: UCSF Health
A comprehensive metabolic panel can measure liver and kidney health in addition to all of the same problems that a basic metabolic panel can detect.
Lipid Panel Normal Ranges
> 60 mg/dL
men: < 40 mg/dL
women: < 50 mg/dL
> 160 mg/dL
< 100 mg/dL
Lipid panels are the main lab test for heart disease. HDL and LDL cholesterol are indicators of heart health.
Lab Test Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Understanding which lab tests are important for you and interpreting results can be overwhelming. Below we answer some questions to help you navigate lab testing and live your healthiest life.
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What lab tests should I consider?
There are several other lab tests that you should consider getting in addition to a CBC, basic metabolic panel, comprehensive metabolic panel, and lipid panel. Some other important lab tests include:
- A1C: This test is used to examine your blood sugar levels and can be used to screen for pre-diabetes and diabetes.
- C-Reactive Protein (CRP): CRP tests for inflammation in the body. These tests are often ordered to diagnose heart disease as well as chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis or lupus.
- Vitamin D: This test can see if you have a vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to symptoms such as back pain, fatigue, muscle pain, and digestive problems.
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH): A TSH test measures certain hormone levels in your body to see if your thyroid is functioning properly. Thyroid dysfunction can lead to mood swings as well as weight and metabolism problems.
- Uric Acid: This test measures the amount of uric acid in your urine. If you have abnormal amounts of uric acid, you may be at a higher risk of developing kidney stones or gout.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Tests: If you are sexually active or are experiencing symptoms, you should consider regular STD testing. It is important to get STD tested so you can get appropriate treatment and avoid spreading diseases to any partners.
Mira offers members access to an A1c test for $19, STD panel for $99, vitamin D test for $35, and other lab tests for affordable prices.
Moreover, Harrison explains that “in addition to standard blood tests, it is also good to request enzyme marker tests, they analyze specific enzyme activity in the body. Many diseases, conditions, and lifestyles can cause enzymes to stop working properly. When this occurs we are mostly unaware of it, however, it causes bloating, nutrient deficiency and contributes to low energy levels due to the body not being able to break down ingested food for its nutrients. Enzyme blood markers inform the patient of any enzyme type that is non-functioning, this allows them to supplement the exact enzyme time to fill the gap.”
What are false positive and false negative results?
A false positive result means your test shows you have a disease or condition, but you don't actually have it. A false-negative result means your test shows you don't have a disease or condition, but you actually have the condition.
Although most routine blood tests have almost 100% accuracy, if your doctor suspects that your lab results may be incorrect, they may order the test to be done again.
Why do some blood tests require fasting?
Fasting for 8-12 hours before certain lab testing helps to make your lab test results as accurate as possible. Food and beverages can cause certain levels in your blood to spike or drop. Some common tests that may require fasting include:
- Cholesterol tests
- Blood sugar tests
- Liver function tests
- Kidney function tests
- Basic metabolic panel
- Glucose tests
Your doctor should let you know in advance if the test you are getting requires fasting for accurate results.
It is important to keep up on regular lab tests to monitor your overall health. Your lab test will indicate if your results are in a normal range, which may vary from person to person. You should always discuss your results with a health care provider, as they may decide to run additional tests and advise you to make changes to your lifestyle or medications.
Without insurance, blood work can cost over $1,000, but with Mira, you can get valuable insights into your health status for a fraction of the price. Mira offers memberships for $45 per month and can help you make your next lab test appointment as soon as you sign up!
Alexis Bryan MPH, is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about increasing access to care to improve health outcomes. Outside of work, she loves to travel, read, and pay too much attention to her plants.