Mercy Medical Center Sioux City

Test Descriptions

Dear Wellness Customer, 

Your Wellness Panel Blood Results will be sent to you in the mail within 7 – 10 days. The blood panel is a screening tool to help you and your health care provider determine your health status.  The blood panel along with your health history and physical examination are needed to make an accurate health assessment.  We recommend that you give your results to your health care provider for year-to-year comparisons.

The test name is found on the left side of your report with the result of each test found in the column immediately to the right.  The flags column quickly alerts your health care provider to any values that fall outside the normal reference range.  Please remember that these flags may or may not represent a disease process.  A value, which is near but outside the reference range, may be normal for you. 

Listed below are brief explanations of the various wellness tests performed. Another good source of information is the health information section of our website with the A.D.A.M. Health Encyclopedia.  Please ask your health care provider for further details on any of the tests or your specific results. Our hope is that this wellness screen has proven useful in helping you take charge of your health status.  May it serve you well! 

 MMC-NH Laboratory Wellness Program


• Hematology is an assessment of the cellular portion of the blood.
WBC (White Blood Cell Count) is an indicator of the status of the body’s defense system against infection.  Elevated counts indicate a bacterial infection while low WBCs can indicate a virus.
RBC (Red Blood Cell Count) is a count of the RBCs in a measured amount of blood.  This represents the ability of the blood to carry oxygen to the tissues.  Low counts are associated with anemia and problems with the manufacture of new RBCs.
HGB (Hemoglobin) is the portion of the RBC that actually carries the oxygen.  Low values indicate anemia.
HCT (Hematocrit) compares the amount of cells to the amount of serum (fluid) in a blood sample. This test is also used for diagnosing anemia. 
Platelets are important in the blood clotting process. 
Significant abnormalities in any area of the Hematology Wellness Panel should be brought to the attention of your health care provider.

• Glucose, or blood sugar, is the most frequently ordered of all clinical chemistry tests and is primarily a screen for diabetes or hypoglycemia.  The pancreas manufactures insulin, which converts sugars into a usable form of energy for the body.  This test is greatly affected if you are not fasting.

 Cholesterol and Lipids are fats.  Fats are important in the diet for proper function of many bodily functions.  However, elevated amounts of cholesterol and triglycerides increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.  Atherosclerosis refers to the deposition of fatty substances, largely cholesterol, in the walls of the arteries.  Total cholesterol is composed of three fractions:
- High Density Lipoproteins (HDL), Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL).  HDL comprises some of the total cholesterol and because of its significance in coronary heart disease; we measure it and calculate the other fractions.  High values of HDL (good cholesterol) tend to protect against atherosclerosis.  HDL may be increased with exercise.  LDL (bad cholesterol) may be decreased by lowering the saturated fat intake in your diet or by medication.  Elevated levels of triglycerides may be due to diets high in carbohydrates and calories or by high alcohol intake.  CHOL /HDL Ratio is a calculation that can aid your doctor in diagnosis if you have an imbalance of these two fats in your system.

• Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine are waste products measured primarily to assess kidney function.  Concentration of these in the body depends upon the rate of productions by the liver and the rate of removal by the kidneys.  High values indicate that blood flow through the kidneys is reduced and that they are not filtering waste from the blood properly, that a high protein diet has been eaten, that there has been excessive destruction of cellular proteins of the body (fever or massive infections), or that there has been an obstruction to urine excretion.  Low values are not usually associated with disease.

• Calcium is a mineral that forms bones and is used to detect parathyroid gland problems.  It’s important in promoting blood coagulation, in the conduction of nerve impulses, and in muscle contractility.  Bone cancer, leading to extensive bone destruction, releases large amounts of calcium into the blood.

• Alkaline phosphatase, AST (SGOT), and ALT (SGPT) are enzymes.  An enzyme is a molecule that promotes chemical reactions.  These enzymes are released when certain cells primarily from the liver, heart, and other organ systems are damaged.  When elevated, these enzymes can help determine the area of trauma.  Levels may vary with the time span since the injury.  Alkaline phosphatase is associated with the bone, liver, or placenta. AST is present in skeletal, heart, and liver cells. ALT is present in very high amounts in liver and kidney with smaller amounts in skeletal and heart muscles. ALT is more liver specific than AST.

• Uric Acid is the end product of urine (amino acid) metabolism.  Elevations are sometimes observed in renal failure, gout, excessive cell destruction, some neoplasms, alcohol consumption, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, congestive heart failure and heart attack or damage. 

• Total Protein in the blood are proteins that are indicators of your general health, nutrition, and defense against infection.  Total protein is made up of both albumin and globulin fractions.  Albumin acts as a transport mechanism for substances such as drugs, antibiotics, etc.  Proteins are normally too big to pass through the kidneys.  Low values are associated with kidney, liver, and/or bowel disease or with nutritional deficiency such as protein starvation.  High values may indicate that a disease process may be causing your body to overproduce various proteins.  Dehydration can also increase albumin concentration.  The most common causes of increased globulins are chronic infections, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, and multiple myeloma.  Decreased globulins may be due to an inherited inability to make globulin.  These people are susceptible to infections.

• Sodium and Potassium plays a significant role in water balance both inside and outside cells, and in the function of nerve tissue and heart and muscle contraction. Low values can occur after prolonged fluid loss (vomiting and diarrhea), in renal disease and from taking diuretics. High blood potassium levels may indicate kidney disease.  Low sodium levels can cause fatigue, headache and muscle cramps.

• TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, is an excellent indicator of thyroid function. Unexplained weight gain or loss, heart palpitations and tiredness may be a few symptoms of abnormal thyroid function.

• Free T4 (thyroxine) is another indicator of thyroid function. When used in combination with TSH it is a very good check of thyroid disorder. An abnormally functioning thyroid gland affects an individual’s energy level, heart rate, weight control, and more. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is reflected by an increase in TSH and a decrease in Free T4. Conversely, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) results in a low TSH and an elevated Free T4.

• PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) is prostate specific but not prostate cancer specific. The American Cancer Society recommends annual PSA and digital rectal exams for all men beginning at age 50.

• Hemoglobin A1C is useful in evaluating the long-term control of blood glucose concentrations in diabetic individuals. It reflects the glucose level over time. It is not considered a substitute for daily glucose monitoring.
• Urine Microalbumin_ is an early indicator of possible kidney damage.  The National Kidney Foundation recommends that Type 1 diabetics over the age of 12 and Type 2 diabetics under the age of 70 be screened every year.

• High Sensitivity CRP increases when inflammation is present. This test is most often used to predict a healthy person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Any recent illness, tissue injury, infection, arthritis, or general inflammation will increase the amount of hs-CRP. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like aspirin, Advil, Motrin, and Naproxen) or statins (a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs) may reduce hs-CRP levels in blood.

• Blood Type (ABO and Rh) are the most common type of antigens found on your red blood cells.  You can have A antigens and your blood type would be “A”.  If you have B antigens your blood type would be type “B”.  If you do not have “A” or “B” antigens, your blood type is “O”.  You can also have both “A” and “B” antigens present and then your blood type would be “AB”. 
Rh antigen is either present (positive) or not present (negative).  The following table gives approximate blood type frequency.  This frequency does vary slightly with race.
       A pos 35%   B pos 8%       AB pos 3%     O pos   38%   
       A neg   6%   B neg 2%       AB neg   1%   O neg   7% 

 Vitamin D is a hormone, produced by the skin, carried by the bloodstream to the liver and then processed by the kidney.  Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from the intestines and promote bone mineralization. Vitamin D deficiency may lead to a variety of disorders, such as osteoporosis.

• Fecal Occult Blood checks for human blood in patient stool samples which is an early indication of lower gastrointestinal bleeding, polyps or colorectal cancer.

• Vitamin B12 in low levels may give symptoms of anemia (weakness, tiredness, pale skin) and/or of neuropathy (tingling or itching sensations, eye twitching, memory loss, altered mental status). This test may also be used for following Vitamin B12 supplementation.

• Iron and Iron Binding deficiency may be seen with insufficient intake, inadequate absorption, or increased requirements, such as may be seen during pregnancy or with acute or chronic blood loss.  Iron overload may be acute or chronic.  Acute iron poisoning may occur, especially in children, with the ingestion of iron tablets.  Chronic overload may be due to excessive intake, hereditary hemochromatosis and multiple blood transfusions or due to other conditions.

• Ferritin is an iron-containing protein that is the primary form of iron stored inside of cells.  The small quantity of Ferritin that is released into the blood is a reflection of the amount of total iron stored in the body.  When available iron is insufficient to meet the body's needs, iron stores are depleted and Ferritin levels decrease.  This may occur because of insufficient iron intake, inadequate absorption, increased need for iron – such as may occur during pregnancy, or due to a condition that causes chronic blood loss.  Significant depletion of iron stores may occur before any signs of iron deficiency develop. Iron Storage and Ferritin levels increase when more iron is absorbed than the body needs.  Chronic absorption of excess iron will lead to the progressive buildup of iron compounds in tissues and organs and may eventually cause their dysfunction and failure.  This happens in hemochromatosis, a genetic disease in which the body absorbs too much iron, even on a normal diet.

• Folate in low levels may give symptoms of anemia (weakness, tiredness, pale skin) and/or of neuropathy (tingling or itching sensations, eye twitching, memory loss, altered mental status).  May also be used for following Folate supplementation. Pregnant women need increased amounts of Folate for proper fetal development.  Because of the added stress of rapidly growing cells (the fetus), increased amounts of folate are required.