Women's Health Resources

Explanation of Lab Results

It is important to realize that laboratory results may be outside of the so-called “normal range” for many reasons. These variations may be due to such things as race, diet, age, sex, menstrual cycle, physical activity, medications and alcohol intake. Most laboratories set their normal range for a particular test so that 95% of healthy patients fall within the normal range. An abnormal result does not necessarily indicate illness. Only your doctor can determine if further testing or treatment is needed. I urge you to discuss your results, especially any abnormalities, with your physician.


Blood tests used to identify the risk of developing heart disease. High levels may also indicate poorly controlled diabetes.


Cholesterol is different from most tests in that it is not used to diagnose or monitor a disease, but is used to estimate risk of developing a disease – specifically heart disease.

Total Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart and blood vessel disease. Cholesterol in itself is not all bad. Our bodies need a certain amount to function properly.

LDL Cholesterol

Considered “bad cholesterol” because cholesterol deposits form in the arteries when LDL levels are high. An LDL level of less than 130 is recommended. 

HDL Cholesterol

A “good cholesterol.” It protects against heart disease. High levels seem to be associated with low incidence of coronary heart disease. 


This is a measure of the sugar level in your blood. High levels can indicate diabetes. Low levels may indicate hypoglycemia. Abnormal values require further evaluation. 

BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen)

This test evaluates kidney function. High levels may indicate kidney disease, congestive heart failure or severe burns. Low levels may indicate an iron deficient diet. 


This is a protein based enzyme. High values, especially with high BUN levels, may indicate problems with kidneys or muscle damage. People with large muscle masses may have elevated levels. Low levels may indicate liver disease or decreased muscle mass. 

BUN Creatinine Ratio

The mathematical relationship of the two. This is used in making a definitive diagnosis about the cause for elevated BUN and/or Creatinine levels. 


Low sodium levels may indicate diuretic usage or excessive water intake in patients with heart or liver disease. High levels may indicate excessive sodium intake or kidney disease. 


Important for the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, particularly the heart. Any value outside the expected range, high or low, requires medical evaluation. 


Important in maintaining normal levels of water in the body. Chloride generally increases or decreases in direct relationship to sodium. 

Carbon Dioxide

Indicate the sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate balance in your body. 


High levels can be due to use of diuretics or kidney problems. Low calcium can be due to certain metabolic disorders or use of diuretics. 

Total Protein

This measurement can reflect nutritional status, kidney disease, liver disease, and many other conditions. If total protein is abnormal, further tests must be performed to identify which protein fraction is abnormal. 

Albumin and Globulin

This is a measure the amount and type of protein in your blood. They are a general index of overall health and nutrition. Globulin is the “antibody” protein important for fighting disease. 

Albumin/Globulin Ratio

A mathematical relationship between the above. 


Low values are of no concern. High values need further evaluation by a physician because of possible liver problems. 

Alkaline Phosphataes

High values might indicate bone or liver damage and require further evaluation. Low values are probably not significant. 

AST, ALT and Alkaline Phosphataes

Enzymes which help all the chemical activities within cells to take place. Abnormal results may indicate heart or liver damage. 

Complete Blood Count (CBC) explanation: 

  • White Blood Count (WBC) – High WBC can be a sign of infection or leukemia. Low white counts can be a sign of bone marrow disease or an enlarged spleen. 
  • Red Blood Count (RBC) – Both high and low values can point to abnormal conditions and require further evaluations. High levels can mean pulmonary (lung) problems. Low levels can indicate anemia. 
  • Hemoglobin (Hgb) and Hematocrit (Hct) – Low Hgb or Hct suggests anemia. High Hgb can occur due to lung disease, living at high altitudes, or excessive bone marrow production of blood cells. 
  • Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) – is a calculation of the amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin inside your RBCs. High levels may not be significant. Low levels may mean you do not have enough oxygen-carrying cells to supply your body with oxygen. 
  • Red Cell Distribution Width (RDW) – is a calculation of the variation in the size of your RBCs. This information can be used in evaluating the severity of some anemias. 
  • Platelet Count (PLT) – helps prevent bleeding. High values can occur with bleeding, cigarette smoking or excess production by the bone marrow. Low values can occur from acute blood loss, infections and leukemia. 

There are five different types of white blood cells, each with its own function in protecting us from infection. The differential classifies a person’s white blood cells into each type: Neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils. Elevated levels may mean you have or have recently had an infection. Low levels may indicate anemia of the Hgb and Hct are low.