Ok people I’m going to start a little series called simplify it. I’m not starting this post series because I think people are dumb to medical terminology, but because I think medicine is complicated for no reason. Trust me, I’m in the field and sometimes I have to google what some of these terms are.
So in this post we are going to break down a term used by healthcare providers. This term is called a BMP (basic metabolic panel). A BMP is bloodwork drawn which tells you a person’s electrolyte level (potassium), glucose (sugar level), and kidney function. When a provider orders a BMP he or she is curious to know what each of these levels are in your body.
In this post we are going to breakdown and simplify each component of a BMP. FYI this will be a simplified breakdown of each component of this lab. At Man of Health our goal is to educate you, but we are not trying to take the place of your healthcare provider. Always consult with your provider when discussing any lab levels. It is vital to have great communication with your primary care provider.
A BMP consists of: Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Calcium, Carbon Dioxide, Chloride, creatinine, glucose, sodium, and potassium level.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): tells you much nitrogen is left over in the body after the filtration of urea (produced in the liver excreted in urine). BUN levels help determine how well your kidneys are functioning. BUN levels can be high because of dehydration, heart failure, or a high protein diet. Liver issues usually cause a low BUN.
Calcium: this test tells your provider how much calcium is floating around in your blood. Calcium is the most important mineral in your body, and your body does a great job of regulating it. When your blood calcium levels are too low (hypocalcemia), your body releases calcium from your bones. When your blood calcium is too high (hypercalcemia), your body takes calcium into the bones or excretes it in the urine.
Vitamin D levels and phosphate levels are usually monitored when calcium levels are out of wack.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): this tests lets your provider know the amount of bicarbonate in your blood. This test tells how well the body is metabolizing. It also tells your provider if the blood is too acidic or too basic.
Chloride: this test measures the amount of salt in your blood. It tells your provider how much fluid you are keeping inside and outside of your cells. A low chloride can come from nausea, diarrhea, steroids, or anything that causes fluid loss. A high chloride level comes from dehydration and medications.
Creatinine: Is a very important blood test. It provides your provider with information on how well your body is getting rid of waste. It tells how well the kidneys are functioning. Most providers look at the creatinine level instead of the BUN to determine kidney function. High creatinine levels usually indicate your kidneys are not functioning as well as they should.
Glucose: a glucose test that is in a BMP usually would be considered a random blood glucose test. It is random because the person may have not fasted (no food eaten) before they had their blood drawn. If your blood glucose test is high your provider may order a fasting glucose level or a hemoglobin A1c. An elevation in any of these glucose tests could indicate diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Potassium: This electrolyte and mineral is one of the most important things in your body. Potassium controls your water levels inside your body, and also controls how your muscles and nerves work. Potassium and sodium have a love-hate relationship. When one goes up the other usually goes down. There are several things that control your potassium level (hormones, salt intake, blood Ph, potassium intake, and certain medications). When potassium levels are abnormal, it seriously affects the body. Low and high potassium levels can cause; muscle weakness, paralysis, confusion, heart rhythm changes, and blood pressure issues.
Sodium: Remember sodium and potassium usually have a love-hate relationship. When one is up typically the other is down. Sodium levels tell your provider how much sodium is in your blood. Sodium controls the amount of fluid inside and outside your cells. Sodium, like potassium affects how your muscles and nerves work. Sodium is controlled by hormones in the body. Sodium can also be affected by your intake of table salt.
Low sodium (hyponatremia) can cause confusion and muscle weakness. High sodium (hypernatremia) can cause edema (swelling), muscle weakness, and seizures.
This is a BMP-Simplified. Use this information to help you collaborate with your provider to be the healthiest version of you. Always consult with your provider if you have any questions.