Understanding Your Bloods

The blood profile is an essential component of your Medical check-up. The tests that were performed are helpful in evaluating your health status. They can help you to learn more about your body and detect potential problems in early stages when treatment or changes in personal habits can be most effective.

It is important to realise that laboratory results may be outside of the so-called "normal range" for many reasons. These variations may be due to such things as race, dietetic preference, age, sex, menstrual cycle, degree of physical activity, problems with collection and/or handling of the specimen, non-prescription drugs (aspirin, "cold" medications, vitamins, etc), prescription drugs, alcohol intake, etc. Most labs set the normal result range for a particular test so that 95% of our healthy patients fall within the normal range. That means 5% of healthy patients fall outside of the normal range, even when there is nothing wrong with them. Thus an abnormal test does not necessarily mean that there is nothing wrong with you.

The following is a brief summary and is not intended to be comprehensive or replace discussion of your results with your own Doctor.

Cholesterol

This is a waxy, fat like substance present in every cell in the body and in many foods. Some cholesterol in the body is necessary-but a high level can lead to heart disease.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

This is known as the "bad cholesterol". High levels can deposit on the walls of the blood vessel and cause formation of plaques, which leads on to cardiovascular disease.

HDL cholesterol

This is known as the "good cholesterol" as it protects against heart disease by helping remove excess cholesterol deposited in the arteries. High levels seem to be associated with low incidence of coronary artery disease.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood that increases after you eat. High levels again can lead to heart disease.

Glucose

This is a measure of the sugar level in your blood. High levels are associated with eating before the test, and diabetes.

Haemoglobin (Hgb)

The haemoglobin is the amount of oxygen carrying protein contained with in the red blood cells. Low Hgb suggests anemia. Anaemia can be due to nutritional deficiencies, blood loss, destruction of blood cells internally, or failure to produce blood in the bone marrow. High Hgb can occur due to lung disease, living at high altitude, or excess bone marrow production of blood cells.

White Blood Count (WBC)

WBC is the number of white cells. High WBC can be a sign of infection. WBC is also increased in certain types of leukaemia. Low white counts can be a sign of bone marrow diseases or an enlarged spleen. Neutrophils, Lymphocytes, Monocytes, Eosinophils & Basophils: - these are subsets of the WBC and give further information as to the cause of an infection.

Red Blood count (RBC)

RBC is the measure of red blood cells in the body and reflects the body's ability to carry oxygen. Oxygen is an essential element that is necessary for most bodily functions.

Platelets (PLT)

This is the number of cells that plug up holes in your blood vessels and prevent bleeding. High values can occur with bleeding, cigarette smoking or excess production by the bone marrow. Low values can occur from premature destruction states such as Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP), acute blood loss, drug effects (such as heparin), infections with sepsis, entrapment of platelets in an enlarged spleens, or bone marrow failure from diseases such as myelofibrosis or leukaemia.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)

PSA is used in the assessment of the prostate gland. High levels can represent prostate abnormalities, such as Benign prostatic Hypertrophy (enlargement of the prostate gland), infection and less commonly cancer.

Urea & Creatinine

These are markers of kidney function. Urea indicates the level of bodily hydration i.e. the amount of water in the body. Creatinine is a waste product largely from muscle breakdown. High values may indicate problem with the kidneys.

Bilirubin

Bilirubin is a pigment removed from the body by the liver. Low values are of no concern. High levels may lead to Yellow Jaundice and warrants further investigation.

Alk.Phos, AST, GGT, LDH

These are liver enzymes, which are markers of liver function. High levels of these enzymes may reflect liver abnormalities such as gallstones, hepatitis, excess alcohol and side effects of some medications.

Dr. Martin Fitzgerald

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