Heart Disease: Understand Your Blood and Urine Test Results

Cholesterol count comes from a blood test called a lipid profile.

Cholesterol

This count comes from a blood test called a lipid profile. The healthy total cholesterol level for adults is below 200 mg/dL. It's the sum of two types of fats: "bad" (LDL) and "good" (HDL) cholesterol. But even if your number falls in the desirable range, you still can have too little of the good kind and too much of the bad, which clogs your blood vessels. Aim to keep your LDL cholesterol under 100 mg/dL and your HDL above 60 mg/dL.

Triglycerides can harden your arteries.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides can harden your arteries. High levels are linked to a higher risk of a host of heart problems, like strokes and heart attacks, as well as obesity and high blood pressure.

These readings are for healthy adults after 12 hours of fasting:

  • Desirable: Less than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)
  • Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.7-2.2 mmol/L)
  • High: 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3-5.6 mmol/L)
  • Very high: Greater than 500 mg/dL (above 5.6 mmol/L)
  • Everyone over 20 should get a full lipid panel every 4-6 years.

    Who Needs a Lipid Profile?

    Everyone over 20 should get a full lipid panel every 4-6 years. Kids should have a full lipid profile once ages 9-11 and again ages 17-21. That's partly because high cholesterol and triglycerides may lead to plaque buildup in children and teens. Your doctor may want testing more often if you're at risk for heart disease or if you're being treated for high cholesterol. Acceptable total cholesterol for most people under 19 is 170 mg/dL.

    Blood Sugar Test is also called a glucose test.

    Blood Sugar Test

    It's also called a glucose test. High levels, or hyperglycemia, could be a sign of diabetes or prediabetes. If you're healthy, yours should be less than 100 mg/dL after fasting. A reading of 126 mg/dL or higher means you have diabetes. With two other tests -- glucose tolerance and random blood sugar -- a level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes. And too low blood sugar may damage your brain or cause other health problems.

    A1c, or Hemoglobin A1c gives a longer-term view of average blood sugar over 2-3 months.

    A1c, or Hemoglobin A1c

    This is a more complex way to gauge your blood sugar than with a blood glucose test. Your A1c gives you a longer-term view of your average blood sugar over 2-3 months. That matters because your glucose level can swing a lot throughout the day if you have diabetes. A1c calculates the percentage of red blood cells coated in sugar. A healthy level is usually below 5.7%. If you have diabetes, your doctor will recommend keeping it under 7%.

    Your pee can show you a lot about your health.

    Urinalysis

    Your pee can show you a lot about your health. Its color, pH level, and the presence of ketones, bacteria, and other substances can reveal diseases and other problems. A urinalysis is routine if you're pregnant or having surgery. Other reasons for it include if your doctor suspects a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney disease. If your urinalysis turns up too much sugar, protein, or red blood cells, your doctor may need more tests.

    Complete blood count checks different blood components

    Complete Blood Count

    It's a test that checks different blood components, including red and white cells. It gives a picture of your overall health. The results also can help diagnose or monitor diseases and conditions that involve your blood cells, such as infections, anemia, and cancer.

    Red blood cells carry life-giving oxygen throughout your body.

    Red Blood Cell Count

    These cells carry life-giving oxygen throughout your body. If you're low on red blood cells, it might be a sign that you're not eating enough nutrients, are bleeding internally, or have bone marrow problems. A high count might stem from heart disease or lung issues, among other causes. The general range for good health is 4.5 million to 5.9 million cells in a microliter of blood in men, and 4.1 million to 5.1 million cells in women.

    White blood cells flood your body when they detect harmful invaders.

    White Blood Cell Count

    These cells flood your body when they detect harmful invaders. So a high white blood cell count may be a sign that you're fighting an infection, allergies, inflammation, or even cancer. A low count may mean bone marrow problems, a weakened immune system from conditions like HIV, or a poor diet. Stress and even too much exercise also can unleash your white blood cells. Normal levels for adults are 3.4 billion to 9.6 billion cells/L.

    Thyroid-stimulating hormone test shows if your thyroid gland is enlarged or has bumps.

    Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone

    Your doctor might order this test if your thyroid gland is enlarged or has bumps. Other reasons include a fast pulse, unexplained weight loss, or other signs of an overactive thyroid. Low hormone levels may mean your thyroid is sluggish. Symptoms include weight gain, puffy and dry skin, and constipation. Medications, including multivitamins and supplements, can affect your test results. So tell your doctor about everything you take.

    Platelet cells help heal wounds and stop bleeding.

    Platelet Count

    These blood cells help heal wounds and stop bleeding. But too many platelets can form dangerous blood clots in your arms and legs that can cause heart attacks or strokes. Low platelet counts may make you bruise easily and to bleed from your gums, nose, and stomach. That may happen because of bone marrow illness, viral infection, or alcohol abuse, among other causes. A normal level is 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.

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    REFERENCES:

    • American Association for Clinical Chemistry: "Urinalysis," "Thyroid-stimulating Hormone (TSH)," "Lipid Panel," "Triglycerides," "Platelet Count," "White Blood Cell Count (WBC)," "White Blood Cell (WBC) Differential," "Hemoglobin," "Hematocrit," "Red Blood Cell Count (RBC)," "Complete Blood Count (CBC)."
    • American Diabetes Association: "A1C does it all."
    • American Heart Association: "What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean."
    • American Society of Hematology: "Blood Basics."
    • CDC: "All About Your A1C."
    • Mayo Clinic: "Cholesterol Test."
    • The Nemours Foundation: "When Blood Sugar Is Too High," "When Blood Sugar Is Too Low," "Immune System."
    • FDA: "Blood Glucose Monitoring Devices."
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