Staying healthy generally means staying on top of your overall health. But while you can gauge some of your health by how you feel, some aspects of your health will rely on laboratory testing. For example, if you’re feeling fatigued, a test that looks for common blood abnormalities might be able to set you on the path to wellness once again. At Text2MD, we know that telemedicine can help you get a head start on many basic health screenings, including setting up a basic metabolic panel test.
When Should You Get a Basic Metabolic Panel Test?
The chances are high that you’ve had a basic metabolic panel test several times in your lifetime. Most physicians use a metabolic panel as a way to establish your baseline health when you are a new patient and these tests are also frequently used as a way to monitor your ongoing health, particularly if previous panels have produced areas of concern.
In general, you should have a metabolic panel test or a BMP every 12 months as part of your annual wellness visit or physical. It’s common for this panel to also be paired with a CBC, which is another type of blood test that examines your blood cells and hemoglobin for concerns such as anemia. Having a BMP every year is a basic way to keep track of your health concerns and screen for early signs of some diseases.
What Does This Test Do?
The purpose of a BMP is to look at your metabolic activity. Most people hear the word metabolism and think about the way the body consumes calories; for example, if you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you might have tried to increase your metabolism to burn more calories. While this isn’t an inaccurate representation of your metabolism, the truth is your metabolic health is very complex.
A BMP will look at several factors that are involved in the way your body uses energy. One of the biggest factors this blood test will look at is your blood sugar, as well as your kidney function, acid-base balance, fluid levels, and electrolyte levels. In other words, your BMP will look at parts of your blood that are not blood cells. Examining these snapshots of your metabolic activity is a good way to gauge the overall health of your body.
Can This Test Diagnose Health Concerns?
This test is not generally used for a formal diagnosis of disease – however, this test is frequently used to support a diagnosis, screen a diagnosis, or rule a diagnosis out. To have a formal diagnosis of a disease such as diabetes, different tests are used at different intervals. This test is most commonly used to monitor your health and prescreen for indicators of early disease.
One way this test is used is to gauge your blood glucose levels as a way to assess whether or not you are at risk of developing diabetes in the future. If your BMP indicates that your blood sugar level is higher than average even after you fasted for the test, then your doctor may recommend you have further blood tests to see whether or not you have diabetes. This test can also indicate:
- Kidney disease
- Low electrolyte
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Low calcium
How Do You Prepare for This Test?
This test is relatively easy to prepare for. There are two ways your physician may order this test; as part of labs that you need to fast for or part of labs that you will not need to fast for. Whether or not you fast for this test is the most important preparation you can do. You should not consume anything other than water for at least eight to 12 hours before a fasting BMP test.
That said, fasting is not always ordered for a BMP. For example, if you are visiting the emergency room, you will not be asked if you have fasted before your visit. Spontaneous-ordered BMPs are usually focused on metabolic processes related to your fluid and electrolyte balance. You do not always need to fast before a metabolic panel unless your physician orders it.
Why Is Fasting Necessary?
Fasting is generally the most important factor for your blood glucose level, but it can also affect other aspects of your panel, such as your electrolytes or the acids in your body. When you eat, your metabolic processes immediately start to work to break down your food into energy that can be consumed or stored. This process takes several hours and has a direct impact on the relative levels of the metabolic processes in your body.
If you eat before a BMP test, your metabolic levels will likely indicate health concerns, such as having very high blood sugar. Even something like eating a mint is considered breaking a fast because consuming the mint will raise insulin levels in the body and skew the results of your blood glucose testing.
What Should You Do After Your Test?
After your test, you can return to your normal daily activities. A basic metabolic panel is a simple blood test that will involve taking a sample of your blood from a vein in your arm. Because this test takes about five to 10 minutes to complete, you are generally allowed to resume your day after your test is complete. This includes eating a meal, drinking water, exercising, or going back to work.
When Will You Get Your Results?
In general, you can expect to have the results of your BMP within 24 hours of your tests. In some settings, such as an emergency room, you can have rapid results for certain measurements, such as electrolytes. The results of your metabolic panel will be sent to your physician, who will then analyze the results and contact you with follow-up instructions or recommendations.
Analyzing the results of your test will involve comparing your levels to the average range most people in your demographic have. Your demographic generally means your age and your gender. If your levels are higher or lower than the average for your demographic, then your doctor may have health recommendations for you to take or may order further tests.
Benefits of Basic Metabolic Panel
As one of the most basic blood tests you can have, there are several benefits for completing your metabolic panel. For example, this test is part of preventative medicine, so by regularly completing a metabolic panel, you can easily screen for health concerns before they become health issues. Some people who have early signs of certain diseases can make lifestyle changes that improve their overall health. Other benefits include:
Simple and Quick
Some blood tests take much more effort to complete. For example, some blood tests to search for blood coagulation diseases require women to take tests on and off of their menstrual cycles to build an accurate blood profile. A metabolic panel, on the other hand, can be done very quickly and does not require a large quantity of blood to be taken for sampling. Usually, only a single vial is necessary to complete this test.
The results of a metabolic panel are also produced very quickly, which can be essential for people who are anxiously waiting to hear back from doctors about possible health concerns. The results of this test are easy enough for patients to understand what their values mean. In fact, even when a physician does not make any health recommendation, some patients take it upon themselves to make lifestyle changes to improve aspects of their metabolic health.
Who Should Use This Test?
This test should be used by everyone as part of a basic health screening for diseases and to monitor general health. Children, adults, and even elderly people regularly complete this test at least once a year as part of standard healthcare. You may use this test more often if you have specific health concerns that need to be more closely monitored.
Start Your Preventative Health Journey
Your continued health relies on your ability to look forward and make necessary lifestyle changes that will improve your overall wellbeing. One key for preventative health is to complete basic tests that will screen for common diseases. A basic metabolic panel is a blood test that can shed a lot of light on your general health. For more information about scheduling a BMP test, please contact Text2MD today to start your telemedicine consultation.