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What Is a Basic Metabolic Panel?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 09, 2021

‌A basic metabolic panel (BMP) checks for the levels of different substances in your blood. The blood test gives your doctor important information about how some of your body's systems are working. This blood work is used to check for certain medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. It also can be used to make sure any medication you’re taking is working well.

Lab tests such as a basic metabolic panel are used by doctors for many reasons, including: ‌

  • Screening for disease
  • Diagnosing a disease
  • Monitoring diseases or treatments
  • Evaluating your general health 

How often you have bloodwork done depends on your health and your doctor’s concerns about how your body is functioning. 

What Is Tested in a Basic Metabolic Panel?

A basic metabolic panel checks your blood sample for eight different substances in your blood, including:‌

  • Calcium: Calcium keeps bones strong and ensures your blood clots properly. 
  • Carbon dioxide: Your carbon dioxide levels show how well your lungs and kidneys are working.      
  • Chloride: Chloride shows how your body is managing fluids. 
  • Creatinine: Levels of creatinine can tell your doctor how well your kidneys are functioning. 
  • Glucose: Glucose in your blood is also known as your blood sugar. It’s the main source of energy for your body. Too little or too much is a serious problem. 
  • Potassium: Potassium helps your muscles work and controls your breathing. Any extra potassium is removed from your blood by your kidneys. However, when you have kidney disease, they can’t remove this extra potassium, so you will have too much in your blood.
  • Sodium: Sodium is a mineral that is important for ensuring your blood, cells, and tissue have enough water to function properly. 
  • Blood urea nitrogen: This is another kidney function byproduct that tells your doctor if your kidneys are working well. ‌

What Is the Difference Between a Basic Metabolic Panel and a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?

A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is another blood test. It checks for the same substances as a basic metabolic panel blood test, but it also measures chemicals made by the liver. Some of the other substances checked for in a comprehensive metabolic panel include:

  • Albumin: This is a protein made in your liver that carries substances like enzymes or hormones throughout your body. When your kidneys begin to fail, albumin may leak into your urine, causing low levels in your blood.
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine transaminase (ALT), and aspartate aminotransferase (AST): These are all different enzymes a liver needs to function properly. 
  • Bilirubin: Bilirubin is a waste product made by the liver as it breaks down old blood cells.

Your doctor may order a comprehensive metabolic panel instead of a basic metabolic panel to get a better picture of how your organs, including your liver, are functioning.

What Do Basic Metabolic Panel Results Show?

Your doctor can help you understand your basic metabolic panel results. If any of the results are not normal, it may mean that you have an underlying medical condition. Your doctor will likely order more tests to confirm any diagnosis. 

Your basic metabolic panel results may say that the levels of substances in your blood are either normal (negative) or abnormal (positive). Results could also be inconclusive, which may mean that you’ll need more tests.

What Can Affect My Basic Metabolic Panel Results?

Several factors can affect the accuracy of your bloodwork results, including: ‌

If you suspect any of these factors may have affected your basic metabolic panel results, make sure to talk to your doctor.

Show Sources

‌SOURCES:
American Kidney Fund: “High potassium (hyperkalemia).”

Penn Medicine: "What Does My Blood Test Mean? A Look at a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel."

Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego: “Blood Test: Basic Metabolic Panel.” 

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Albumin (Blood),” “Basic Metabolic Panel (Blood), "Total Bilirubin."

U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP),” “How to Understand Your Lab Results.”

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