List of Common Blood Chemistry Tests

Common Blood Chemistry Tests and Their Uses

There are lots of chemicals in blood, not just red blood cells.
There are lots of chemicals in blood, not just red blood cells. Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO, Getty Images

Your blood contains many chemicals, not just red and white blood cells. Blood chemistry tests are among the most common diagnostic tests performed to detect and diagnose illnesses. Blood chemistry indicates hydration levels, whether or not an infection is present, and how well organ systems are functioning. Here is a list and explanation of several blood tests.

Table of Common Blood Chemistry Tests

Test NameFunctionValue
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)Screens for renal disease, assesses glomerular functionNormal Range: 7-25 mg/dL
Calcium (Ca)Assess parathyroid functioning and calcium metabolismNormal Range: 8.5-10.8 mg/dL
Chloride (Cl)Assess water and electrolyte balanceNormal Range: 96-109 mmol/L
Cholesterol (Chol)High total Chol may indicate atherosclerosis related to coronary heart disease; indicates thyroid and liver function

Total Normal Range: Less than 200 mg/dL

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Normal Range: Less than 100 mg/dL

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Normal Range: 60 mg/dL or greater

Creatinine (Creat)

High creatinine levels almost always are due to renal damage.Normal Range: 0.6-1.5 mg/dL
Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS)Fasting blood sugar is measured to assess glucose metabolism.Normal Range: 70-110 mg/dL
2-hour post-prandial blood sugar (2-hr PPBS)Used to assess glucose metabolism.Normal Range: Less than 140 mg/dL
Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT)Use to assess glucose metabolism.30 min: 150-160 mg/dL
1 hour: 160-170 mg/dL
2 hour: 120 mg/dL
3 hour: 70-110 mg/dL
Potassium (K)Assess water and electrolyte balance. High potassium levels can cause cardiac arrythmia, while low levels may cause cramps and muscle weakness.Normal Range: 3.5-5.3 mmol/L
Sodium (Na)Used to assess salt balance and hydration levels.135-147 mmol/L
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)Measured to diagnose thyroid function disorders.Normal Range: 0.3-4.0 ug/L
UreaUrea is a product of amino acid metabolism. It is measured to check kidney function.Normal Range: 3.5-8.8 mmol/l

Other Routine Blood Tests

Beside chemical tests, routine blood tests look at the cellular composition of blood. Common tests include:

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The CBC is one of the most common blood tests. It is an assay of the ratio of red to white blood cells, types of white cells, and number of platelets in blood. It can be used as an initial screening test for an infection and a general measure of health.

Hematocrit

A hematocrit is a measure of how much of your blood volume consists of red blood cells. A high hematocrit level can indicate dehydration, while a. low hematocrit level may indicate anemia. An abnormal hematocrit may signal a blood disorder or bone marrow disease.

Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Abnormal red blood cell levels might be a sign of anemia, dehydration (too little fluid in the body), bleeding, or another disorder.

White Blood Cells

White blood cells fight infection, so a high white cell count may indicate infection, blood disease, or cancer.

Platelets

Platelets are fragments that stick together to help blood clot when a blood vessel is broken. Abnormal platelet levels may signal a bleeding disorder (insufficient clotting) or a thrombotic disorder (too much clotting).

Hemoglobin

Hemoglobin is the iron-containing protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells. Abnormal hemoglobin levels might be a sign of anemia, sickle cell, or other blood disorders. Diabetes can raise levels of hemoglobin in blood.

Mean Corpuscular Volume

Mean corpuscular (MCV) is a measure of the average size of your red blood cells. Abnormal MCV may indicate anemia or thalassemia.

Blood Test Alternatives

There are disadvantages to blood tests, not the least of which is patient discomfort! Scientists are developing less invasive tests for key measurements. These tests include:

Saliva Tests

Since saliva contains about 20 percent of the proteins found in blood, it offers potential as a useful diagnostic fluid. Saliva samples are typically analyzed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), mass spectrometry, and other analytical chemistry techniques.

SIMBAS

SIMBAS stands for Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System. It is a tiny lab on a computer chip that can yield blood test results within about 10 minutes. While SIMBAS still requires blood, only a 5 μL droplet is required, which can be obtained from a finger prick (no needle).

Microemulsion

Like SIMBAS, microemulsion is blood test microchip that only requires a drop of blood in order to make an analysis. While robotic blood analysis machines can cost $10,000, a microchip only runs about $25. In addition to making blood tests easier for doctors, the ease and affordability of the chips make the tests accessible to the general public.

References

  • C. A. Burtis and E. R. Ashwood, Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry (1994) 2nd edition. Elsevier.