Blood Tests and Results- What do they mean?

Blood tests and results

Laboratory tests are tools helpful in evaluating the health status of an individual. 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, dietary preference, age, sex, menstrual cycle, degree of physical activity, problems with collection and/or handling of the specimen, non-prescription (over the counter) drugs (aspirin, cold medications, vitamins, etc.),  prescription drugs, alcohol intake and a number of non-illness-related factors.

Any unusual or abnormal results should be discussed with the GP who ordered the test. It is not possible to diagnose or treat any disease or problem with a blood test alone. It can, however, help you to learn more about your body and detect potential problems in early stages when treatment or changes in personal habits can be most effective.

Almost all laboratories set the normal result range for a particular test so that 95% of healthy patients fall within the “normal range”.

That means that 5% of healthy patients fall outside of the normal range, even when there is nothing wrong with them.

Thus an abnormal test does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with you. Statistically if you have 20 or 30 individual tests checking various things, the chances are 1 or 2 will be slightly outside the normal range.

The comments your doctor then attaches to your results are their interpretation of whether or not any changes are meaningful.

What the doctors comments mean

Normal, no action.

This means that the doctor has looked at the result and deemed it to be within the normal range for the test and so no further investigation or treatment is needed.

Okay.

This means that the doctor has looked at the result and deemed it to be very close to the normal range for the test and the result is not concerning. Some patients have consistently abnormal results that are “normal” for them.

Doctor to contact patient./patient to phone doctor, not urgent.

This means that the doctor wishes to speak to you in order to explain the result e.g. it may be outside the normal range but acceptable to the doctor in the circumstances.

Make appointment to see doctor, non-urgent.

This is similar to the above but the doctor wishes to explain the result(s) face to face as detailed explanations and/or further treatment or investigation(s) may be necessary.

Infection confirmed, on correct antibiotic/antifungal.

Self explanatory.

Continue on current medication.

No reason to change current treatment according to test result(s).

Review in diabetic clinic.

Used for diabetic patients who will have their results discussed during their next clinic review.

Cardiovascular risk OK repeat in 5 years.

This means that the blood fat results, height and weight (BMI), blood pressure, smoking habits, family history, sex, ethnicity and other medical conditions e.g. diabetes are used together to calculate a predicted risk score for the development of heart disease and/or stroke over  the next 10 years (assuming that no preventative measures are undertaken).

e.g. If someone has a 10 year QRISK®2 score of 20% then in a crowd of 100 people like them, on average 20 people would get cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years. Or put another way, they have a ‘one in five’ chance of getting cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years

If you have a QRISK®2 score of 20% or more then you are considered to be at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease and need to have advice or treatment to reduce your risk.

Therefore if the comment is cardiovascular risk OK repeat in 5 years your risk is low and you should maintain a healthy lifestyle and have your risk recalculated in 5 years time.