We’re Saying the Same Thing but Using Different Words: Diabetes Lab Work
Last updated: May 2022
Even as medical notes and lab work become more available via online portals, you may notice a number of different terms used regarding your diabetes health. It’s challenging to decipher all the ins and outs of the healthcare world, let alone dig through routine diabetes lab work.
Terms used for type 2 diabetes lab work
This portion of the series discusses diabetes medical terms vs layman’s terms with diabetes lab work:1,2
Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP): A routine blood lab that gives an overview of general health measures, such as glucose, potassium, and sodium. Other descriptions: health panel, complete BMP, comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), metabolic panel. Pieces of this lab test may be reviewed for usual diabetes health are listed below.
Glucose: Shows the level of sugar in your bloodstream at the time of the lab work. Often your provider will order this test to be done fasting, so your levels are fasting glucose levels. Other descriptions: sugar, fasting glucose, blood sugar.
Creatinine: A waste product that your body filters out through your kidney and into your urine. Higher levels can mean the kidneys are not filtering out creatinine as well as they should. Other descriptions: kidney waste, elevated creatinine, crt, high waste levels.
Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR): Gives information on how well your kidneys are filtering your blood, removing extra fluid and waste from your body. Other descriptions: kidney filters, “how well your kidneys filter out waste.”
Lipid Panel: Blood lab work showing the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream, including healthy and unhealthy cholesterol. Other descriptions: lipids, cholesterol, lipid profile, fat, fatty acid, saturated fat, saturated fatty acid, dyslipidemia, lipid disorder, hyperlipidemia.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol: A type of cholesterol that increases your risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. Other descriptions: lipids, bad cholesterol, unhealthy cholesterol.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol: A type of cholesterol that shifts unhealthy cholesterol away from your heart and blood vessels into the liver, to be processed and eliminated from your body. Other descriptions: lipids, good cholesterol, healthy cholesterol, heart-healthy cholesterol.
Triglycerides: A type of fat that your body uses for energy or stores, but in high levels can cause blood vessel diseases or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). You often see triglycerides higher than normal when your blood sugars are higher than normal.1 Other descriptions: “trigs”, diet-related cholesterol, bad cholesterol, unhealthy cholesterol, hypertriglyceridemia.
Hemoglobin A1c: Lab work showing the amount of glucose or sugar attached to hemoglobin, a portion of red blood cells. This is usually checked every 3-6 months, as red blood cells typically die off and regenerate every 3 months. Other descriptions: A1c, “3-month check,” blood sugar average.
Urine albumin: Urine lab work showing the level of protein in your urine. Higher levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria) are unhealthy and can be early signs of kidney or heart problems. Other descriptions: urine check, microalbumin test, “pee” test, random urine albumin, proteinuria, albuminuria, kidney check.
How does your doctor explain routine test results to you?
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