Healthy Living

What Is a Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) Used For?

Basic Metabolic Panel: Procedure, Preparation, and Risks

Basic Metabolic Panel

A basic metabolic panel is a group of blood tests that will give healthcare providers important information about an individual's current metabolic status, which includes kidney function, blood sugar levels, acid-base balance, and electrolyte balance. Having a combination of abnormal results on these tests often indicate a health problem, which requires medical attention. 

A BMP includes the following tests:

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Glucose and Calcium

  • Calcium - This important mineral is essential when it comes to the optimal functioning of the nerves, heart, and muscles. Calcium is also required for bone formation and clotting of blood. 
  • Glucose - It is a source of energy for the body. For this reason, an adequate supply of glucose is needed along with maintaining a constant glucose level in the blood for the cells to properly execute their functions. 

Electrolytes

  • Chloride - It helps maintain the acid-base balance as well as regulate the amount of fluid in the body. 
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - It helps maintain the body's pH balance.
  • Sodium - It is necessary for normal body processes, which include muscle and nerve functions. 
  • Potassium - It is needed for normal muscle function and cell metabolism.

Kidney Tests

  • BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) - This test is used to determine if your kidneys are properly functioning. In this test, the amount of urea nitrogen is measured in the blood. Urea nitrogen is a waste product, which is filtered by the kidneys. Kidney problems have the potential to affect the levels of urea in the blood. 
  • Creatinine - Creatinine is also a waste product that is filtered by the kidneys and then excreted from the body through urination. There may be signs of kidney damage when there are high levels of creatinine in the blood. 

Test results usually depend on an individual's health's history, age, gender, and utilized methods.  

Why is BMP performed?

Through this test, healthcare providers will have a good idea if people have problems with the following:

  • Blood's pH balance
  • Blood filtration
  • Electrolyte levels
  • Blood sugar levels

Other health conditions can also be identified by carrying out a BMP test. They include:

If these indicators show any abnormalities, more specific tests are performed. The advantage of this test is that a number of tests can be performed with a single blood sample. After drawing a sample of your blood, the blood will be divided up for other tests. 

How is it performed?

A small amount of your blood is taken to perform a BMP test. The blood sample is obtained through venipuncture. A needle is inserted into your vein in the inside of the elbow or on top of your hand. Blood is collected through the needle and into a tube. The blood sample is then analyzed in the laboratory. 

Preparing for the Test

Before the blood test, your doctor may require you to fast for 10-12 hours. However, preparation for the test also depends on the reason why a BMP is ordered. There are cases where blood is randomly drawn or drawn after a period of fasting. 

Risks of BMP Testing

A mild to moderate pinching sensation may be felt when a blood sample is collected. After blood collection, a throbbing sensation may also be felt. You will then be instructed to apply pressure for 10-20 minutes to the site of venipuncture to stop the bleeding. 

Although rare, the risks involved during blood collection may include:

  • Fainting
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma 
  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding after blood collection (may indicate a serious bleeding disorder)

Normal Range

The normal values of the tests may slightly vary, especially in people who are more than 60 years old. The following normal values are for individuals who are 18-60 years old:

Kidney Test

  • Blood Urea Nitrogen - 6-20 mg/dL 
  • Creatinine - 0.6-1.1 mg/dL (females) and 0.9-1.3 mg/dL (males)

Electrolyte Panel

  • Calcium - 8.6-10.2 mg/dL
  • Chloride - 98-107 mEq/L
  • Carbon Dioxide - 23-29 mEq/L 
  • Potassium - 3.5-5.1 mEq/L
  • Sodium - 136-145 mEq/L

Sugar Metabolism

  • Glucose - 70-99 mg/dL

Blood Protein

  • Albumin - 3.4-5.4 g/dL 

The outcome of the tests can be influenced by a variety of prescribed and OTC medications. For this reason, it is very important to inform your healthcare provider about the medications you are taking along with giving your detailed medical history since other factors can also significantly affect the interpretation of laboratory results. 

Abnormal Tests Results

Kidney Tests

Kidney disease may be indicated by an elevated BUN level. Kidney disease includes kidney failure or glomerulonephritis. The cause of a high BUN level could be hypovolemic shock or congestive heart failure. Bleeding and steroids can also cause the BUN level to rise. If the BUN levels are low, it may indicate a liver problem or an insufficient amount of protein in the diet.

Moreover, high creatinine levels may indicate muscle disease, preeclampsia, and kidney problems. Low creatinine levels, on the other hand, may indicate a rare disorder called myasthenia gravis, which is an autoimmune condition that affects the neuromuscular junction (the connection between the muscle and nerves).

Sugar Metabolism

Diabetes can be diagnosed by fasting blood glucose levels. If a person's fasting blood glucose level is above 126 mg/dL, then it may indicate diabetes. High blood glucose level may also indicate other health problems, such as pancreatic cancer and hyperthyroidism.

A low blood glucose level may also indicate an underactive thyroid gland, pituitary gland, or adrenal gland. A low blood glucose level can also occur when an individual with diabetes eats too little food while taking medications for diabetes or when too much of insulin is consumed. 

Blood Protein

It is very rare to have a very high albumin level. Kidney disease, liver disease, a diet containing low protein, and a recent weight loss surgery may cause low albumin levels.

Electrolyte Panel

Breathing or metabolic problems may cause high levels of carbon dioxide or bicarbonate. Cushing’s syndrome or hormonal problems may also cause high levels of bicarbonate or carbon dioxide. Acidosis, several kinds of poison toxicities, or kidney disease, can also cause abnormal carbon dioxide levels.

If there are problems with the parathyroid gland, then the serum calcium level can be high. Also, certain types of cancer can elevate serum calcium levels. Other conditions that may cause low serum calcium levels include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Inactive parathyroid gland 
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Pancreatic problems

Various hormonal problems can cause high serum sodium levels. These conditions include Cushing’s syndrome and diabetes insipidus. A lower-than-normal sodium level can be caused by hormonal abnormalities such as the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH) or Addison’s disease. Other causes of low sodium levels are dehydration, vomiting, kidney failure, and liver or heart failure.

One common indication of kidney disease is an elevated level of serum potassium. Potassium is very important when it comes to muscle function. If the levels of potassium are elevated, it can cause problems with the heart's electrical activity. Low serum potassium can be caused by the use of diuretic medications or certain hormonal problems. An irregular heartbeat may also be caused by low levels of serum potassium.

High chloride levels may be due to metabolic acidosis. In this condition, not enough acid is removed from the body by the kidneys. Addison’s disease, dehydration, or congestive heart failure may cause low chloride levels. Chloride levels are also affected by metabolic alkalosis and a number of other abnormalities.

Key Takeaways

  • A basic metabolic panel is a group of blood tests that will give healthcare providers important information about an individual's current metabolic status, which includes kidney function, blood sugar levels, acid-base balance, and electrolyte balance.
  • Before the blood test, your doctor may require you to fast for 10-12 hours. 
  • Having a combination of abnormal results on these tests often indicate a health problem, which requires medical attention.