The lab test known as the comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is often used by health care professionals to assess organ function. In addition, because the CMP includes tests that indicate the presence of certain diseases like diabetes or conditions like hypertension, the CMP may be used as a diagnostic, screening, or monitoring tool.
Ordering a CMP
A doctor will often order a CMP as part of the annual physical process. A CMP allows the doctor to perform a single blood test to evaluate multiple results that can indicate the presence of certain conditions. For example, people who have diabetes are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure. A CMP can indicate the blood sugar and provide information about kidney function, which is often implicated in high blood pressure.
The CMP includes tests to evaluate blood sugar, kidney function, liver function and nutritional status. Normal ranges may vary slightly depending on the specific test the clinical laboratory uses. The tests on a CMP are:
- Blood Glucose – a higher than normal blood sugar can indicate a prediabetic condition or the actual disease.
- Calcium – although most of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones, it is also present in the blood. High or low levels of blood calcium can indicate malnutrition, kidney disease, cancer or problems with the parathyroid hormone.
- Albumin – albumin is a type of protein. Low levels are often found in people who have liver disease or malnutrition from conditions like Crohn’s disease. High levels can be found with cancers like myeloma or leukemia.
- Total Protein – other proteins are found in the body; this test indicates their presence. The ratio of albumin to other proteins is also important for diagnostic purposes.
- Electrolytes – an electrolyte is any substance that produces an electrical charge when dissolved in water. Sodium, potassium, calcium, carbon dioxide and chloride are all important for the regulation of various organs or body functions.
- Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) – the BUN is a measure of kidney function. It can become elevated in conditions such as kidney disease or damage, or as a result of poor blood flow through the kidneys, which can occur with congestive heart failure.
- Creatinine – creatinine levels indicate how well the filtration system in the kidneys is working.
- Liver Function Tests – Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine amino transferase (ALT), aspartate amino transferase (AAT) are liver enzymes that can indicate the presence of conditions like hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver.
- Bilirubin – a pigment that results from the breakdown of red blood cells, an elevated bilirubin can cause jaundice. An elevated bilirubin can indicate hepatitis or liver disease.
The CMP is a valuable tool for medical professionals. The variety of tests allows for a detailed assessment of the patient’s condition and helps in diagnosis. For the patient, a single blood test is much preferable to multiple blood draws for the same purpose.