Decoding your blood test report

Decoding your blood test report


It is the blood glucose level when you haven’t eaten for at least 8 hours, often the first test for diabetes. A high reading here (more than in postprandial, or PP) indicates diabetes. You shouldn’t eat or drink anything other than water for at least 8 hours before the sample is drawn


This is the glucose level exactly 2 hours after a meal. it indicates the need for change of medication or diet regime.


High levels of creatinine can mean serious kidney damage or disease, infection, or cancer. Low levels can indicate liver disease or a low-protein diet. Pregnancy can also lower creatinine levels. Avoid strenuous exercise for two days (48 hours) before the test, do not eat unusually large quantities of meat or any other protein for 24 hours before the test, and drink enough fluids during the 24-hour urine collection. Avoid coffee and tea.

Also See Blood Test Report (PDF)


It helps maintain electrolyte (and hence fluid) balance in the body. Abnormal levels can indicate dehydration, a gastrointestinal (GI) tract infection, hormonal disorders involving the thyroid and adrenal glands, kidney or liver problems, or even heart trouble


It helps the nerves and muscles communicate. Abnormal levels can indicate heart trouble, and high levels can also indicate poor kidney function. Uncontrolled diabetes or GI tract problems can also affect potassium levels


Blood chloride levels can help diagnose conditions causing vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and respiratory distress


Abnormal levels can indicate kidney or lung diseases, and some metabolic conditions that alter electrolyte balance


High urea can indicate kidney problems or infection


This bile pigment is created during the breakdown of haemoglobin (a normal process, as red blood cells are regularly manufactured in bone marrow and replaced in the bloodstream).

Direct bilirubin

Made in the liver from indirect bilirubin, this is a water-soluble pigment. High levels usually indicate a blocked bile duct

Indirect bilirubin

It is the insoluble form, which is carried by the bloodstream to the liver. Abnormal levels can indicate gall bladder or liver problems—such as a blocked bile duct, hepatitis, cirrhosis—or a side effect of certain medicines. Don’t eat or drink for at least 4 hours before the test. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking drugs that affect the results


It measures the serum (blood) level of the enzyme glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT), found in the liver, muscle (including the heart) and red blood cells. It is released when these cells are damaged. High levels can indicate gall bladder disease or liver damage from infection (such as viral hepatitis), toxins (such as alcohol) or cancer.


It measures the blood level of the enzyme glutamate pyruvate transaminase (GPT), very concentrated in the liver and released when liver cells are damaged.


A low reading means anaemia (when your blood can’t carry enough oxygen to other cells). A high reading can indicate other forms of anaemia (blood disorders such as thalassaemia, sickle cell disease, etc


Total leukocyte count or TLC reflects the number of white blood cells in your blood. Since they fight infection, high levels indicate bacterial infection or allergy. Low levels may mean a viral infection or typhoid.

Platelet count

Platelets help blood to clot when there is an often associated with a bleeding disorder. Too high can also mean a bleeding or clotting disorder.


Total cholesterol can indicate risk of cardiovascular disease. A diet of saturated fats and some drugs can increase cholesterol readings. High triglycerides and low HDL (high-density lipoprotein) are common in diabetes too.


HDL, or good cholesterol, prevents plaque build-up in arteries


Low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, is the main source of build-up and blockage in arteries


This is the most common form of fat in the blood. High levels can be due to obesity, diabetes, kidney failure and more. An excess thickens the blood, increasing the risk of a blockage or clot that can result in a stroke or heart attack. For diabetics and those with a history of cardiovascular disease, high risk of heart problems means more stringent control of triglycerides is needed.

VLDL cholesterol

Very low density lipoproteins help distribute triglycerides through the bloodstream. They also convert into LDL, which can eventually clog blood vessels.

Courtesy: Rommel Tickoo, consultant, internal medicine, Max Hospital, New Delhi.



Most of us swing our arms when we walk, which costs energy. So why do it? Some experts feel it is an evolutionary relic from when we walked on all fours. But a trio of US and Dutch specialists found that holding one’s arms still needs 12% more metabolic energy. The swing also dampens the bobbing motion of walking, itself an energy drain on the lower legs. If you hold your arms still, the bobbing motion rises by 63%. Most efficient: swinging the opposite arm and leg together. Syncing the right arm with the right leg and the left arm with the left leg means less energy use in the shoulder muscles, but the metabolic rate goes up by a quarter.


Omega-3-rich seafood, a mood lifter for pregnant women

Eating omega-3-rich seafood may be a mood lifter for women who feel depressed during pregnancy, suggests a study of British women. In the study, Jean Golding, at the University of Bristol, and colleagues found an association between low omega-3 fatty acid intake from seafood and an increased risk of depressive symptoms during pregnancy.


Medically induced menopause almost doubles women’s risk of developing lung cancer: study

Women who undergo hysterectomy often have their ovaries removed as well to prevent ovarian cancer. But a new study suggests this may increase the risk of a seemingly unrelated ailment—lung cancer. Scientists at the University of Montreal in Canada stumbled on the connection while investigating the relationship between lung cancer and hormones in women. They found no relationship between hormonal factors such as menstruation patterns, childbearing or breastfeeding histories and the risk of lung cancer. But they did find that medically induced menopause almost doubled women’s risk of developing lung cancer. “We were surprised—we had no prior expectation of this finding," says Anita Koushik, a researcher at the university’s department of social and preventive medicine and the first author of the study.

©2009/The New York Times

Emotional intimacy beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease who have a close relationship with their caregivers show a slower rate of decline in their mental and physical function over time, new research indicates. The beneficial effect of emotional intimacy that the researchers saw among participants in a study was on par with some drugs used to treat the disease, Maria Norton of Utah State University in Salt Lake City, US, and her colleagues found.


Write to us at