Comprehensive Metabolic Panel: What It Reveals About Your Health
70% of medical decisions are based on blood test results. One blood test that can reveal a lot about your health is the comprehensive metabolic panel.
This type of test looks at different components of your blood. High or low levels of these blood components can help doctors screen for, diagnose, and manage chronic diseases and other conditions.
Scheduling annual comprehensive metabolic panels is an excellent habit to get into. Regular blood tests can help you stay on top of your health, identify health conditions early, and even prevent new diseases from arising.
Are you getting ready for one of these blood tests? If so, check out this guide to learn what comprehensive metabolic panels look for and what abnormal results may mean for your health.
What Is a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a lab test used to measure the content of your blood. These tests help healthcare professionals diagnose and monitor chronic conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.
What Do CMPs Measure?
CMPs measure levels of 14 different components of the blood. The components and their normal values are as follows:
- Albumin: A protein made by the liver with normal values of 3.4–5.4 g/dL, which may indicate a liver disorder when low
- ALP (alkaline phosphatase): A liver enzyme with normal values of 20–130 U/L
- ALT (alanine transaminase): A liver enzyme with normal values of 4–36 U/L
- AST (aspartate aminotransferase): A liver enzyme with normal values of 8–33 U/L
- Bicarbonate: A measure of blood CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels with normal values of 23–29 mEq/L
- BUN (blood urea nitrogen): A waste product with normal values of 6–20 mg/dL, which may indicate a kidney disorder when high
- Calcium: A mineral that supports bone, nerve, muscle, and heart health with normal values of 8.5–10.2 mg/dL
- Chloride: A type of electrolyte with normal values of 96–106 mEq/dL, which may indicate dehydration when low
- Creatinine: A waste product of muscle synthesis with normal values of 0.6–1.3 mg/dL, which may indicate a kidney disorder when high
- Glucose (blood sugar): Levels above 70–100 mg/dL may indicate Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
- Potassium: A mineral and electrolyte with normal values of 3.7–5.2 mEq/L
- Sodium: A mineral with normal values of 135–145 mEq/L
- Bilirubin: A waste product of red blood cells with normal values of 0.1–1.2 mg/dL
- Total Protein (blood proteins albumin and globulin): Levels higher or lower than 6–8.3 mg/dL may indicate dehydration or a liver/kidney disorder, respectively
Having higher or lower levels than these normal values may indicate a health issue. We will talk more about abnormal CMP results in a moment.
However, some components (e.g., creatinine) may vary depending on age and other factors.
Who Needs a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?
People often need a comprehensive metabolic panel during a routine checkup. There are also some illnesses doctors can use CMPs to diagnose, including:
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Electrolyte deficiency disorders
Doctors may also order a CMP for people on certain medications. CMPs can also help screen for issues arising from a major surgery or medical procedure.
What to Expect During a CMP
Did your doctor recently order a CMP? If so, you may be curious about what to expect. Below, we will explain the process of getting a comprehensive metabolic panel to help ease your mind.
Before Your CMP
Your healthcare provider may recommend fasting before your CMP. Fasting requires you to abstain from food and/or liquids for at least eight hours preceding your test.
Why would a doctor recommend this? The primary reason is that doctors want to see your fasting blood sugar and nutrient levels. Fasting blood sugar and nutrient levels better represent your body’s normal processes.
When you eat, your body breaks down nutrients and sugars. These nutrients and sugars include many of the blood components CMPs look at. As such, they can skew the results of your test.
During Your CMP
A CMP is a blood test, so your provider must take a blood sample. A nurse or doctor will insert a small needle into a vein in your arm and collect a small amount of your blood. The entire procedure takes less than five minutes.
Needles can be scary, but getting blood drawn is relatively painless. However, it does come with a few mild side effects. For example, you may have slight tenderness and bruising at the site where the needle punctured your skin.
In extremely rare cases, getting your blood drawn may cause other complications. Call your healthcare provider if you experience uncommon side effects like excessive bleeding, fainting, hematomas, or infection.
After Your CMP
Once a healthcare professional takes your blood, they will submit the sample to a blood testing lab. The lab will test the sample for the 14 blood components listed above. Then, they will create a results sheet.
Your provider may not provide the results of your test if it comes back normal. It is still a good idea to ask for the results and keep them in your medical records.
If your CMP results come back abnormal, that means you have higher or lower levels of one or more of the 14 blood components.
What Do Abnormal CMP Results Mean?
Abnormal CMP results could indicate a variety of health conditions, including liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure, or hyperglycemia (diabetes).
Doctors do not typically use CMP results alone to diagnose these conditions. Instead, they may ask you to come back to their office and perform additional tests. These tests can diagnose your condition.
Do You Need a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) measures 14 components of your blood. These components have normal values, which, when too low or high, may indicate liver or kidney problems, diabetes, and more.
Are you searching for a trusted CMP blood test provider? Precision Labs provides fully customizable blood test services in and around the St. Louis, MO area. Learn more about our blood testing services today!