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BMP Blood Test: The Basic Metabolic Panel

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 5/5/2010

The BMP blood test is one of many laboratory tests medical professionals use to determine why patients are experiencing specific symptoms. Learn about the components of the BMP test and how it is used.

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    The BMP blood test is actually a set of eight different tests that allow doctors to better understand a patient's health by providing lab values associated with the kidneys, acid/base balance, blood sugar, and levels of specific minerals in the body. When this test is performed, the values can indicate problems with the heart, kidneys, and respiratory system, as well as conditions related to diabetes and insulin shock (American Association for Clinical Chemistry).

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    Reasons for Ordering

    This test is ordered for several reasons. In an emergency room situation, the test is ordered because it can give doctors a good indication of the health of some of the body's major organs. The doctors in the emergency room can then order additional laboratory and diagnostic tests in order to follow up on the results of the test.

    The BMP can also be used to monitor people who have a history of specific medical conditions. For example, patients with kidney disease or other kidney problems will undergo a BMP blood test on a regular basis, since the test allows doctors to assess the functioning of the kidneys (American Association for Clinical Chemistry).

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    Test Components

    The BMP blood test includes the levels of glucose and calcium in the blood; levels of the electrolytes sodium, potassium, chloride, and carbon dioxide, and BUN and creatinine levels, which indicate how the kidneys are functioning. The level of glucose in the blood can help doctors determine if a patient has diabetes or if there are other medical conditions that need to be treated. Calcium is important for proper functioning, but levels of calcium that are too high or too low can be dangerous. This test allows doctors to determine if calcium levels need to be corrected. Electrolytes are very important for nerve and muscle function, so it is important that they are in balance (University of Florida). The test allows doctors to determine if an electrolyte imbalance is present. BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen which, along with creatinine, is a waste product of the blood. High levels of BUN and creatinine can indicate a problem with kidney function (American Association for Clinical Chemistry).

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    References

    American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Lab Tests Online. "BMP." Retrieved November 29, 2008. Available: American Association for Clinical Chemistry

    University of Florida Shands Cancer Center. "Electrolyte Imbalance." Retrieved November 29, 2008. Available: University of Florida Shands Cancer Center