Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP)

Overview

What is a basic metabolic panel (BMP)?

A basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a blood sample test that measures eight different substances in your blood. The panel provides helpful information about your body's chemical balance and metabolism (how your body transforms the food you eat into energy).

Healthcare providers often use a BMP as a go-to blood test and to help diagnose, screen for or monitor certain health conditions.

What is included in a basic metabolic panel (BMP)?

A basic metabolic panel measures the following substances in your blood:

  • Glucose: This is a type of sugar that provides energy for your body and brain. Glucose is also known as blood sugar. Elevated blood glucose is often a sign of diabetes.
  • Calcium: Calcium is one of the most important and common minerals in your body. While most of your calcium is stored in your bones, you need calcium in your blood as well. Blood calcium is essential for proper functioning of your nerves, muscles and heart. It also helps with blood clotting when you’re injured.
  • BUN (blood urea nitrogen): This is a measurement of urea, which is a waste product that your kidneys help remove from your blood.
  • Creatinine: This is a byproduct of muscle activity. It’s a waste product that your kidneys filter and remove from your blood.

A BMP also measures the following four electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge when they are dissolved in a liquid. These electrolytes in your blood control nerve and muscle function and maintain the acid-base balance (pH balance) of your blood and your water balance.

  • Sodium: Most of your sodium comes from the food you eat, and your kidneys help regulate your body’s sodium levels.
  • Potassium: Potassium comes from the food you eat and is present in all tissues of your body.
  • Bicarbonate: Bicarbonate indicates the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in your blood.
  • Chloride: Chloride functions along with sodium, potassium and bicarbonate to control many processes in your body.

Why is a basic metabolic panel ordered?

There are many reasons that healthcare providers may order a basic metabolic panel (BMP). Providers often order a BMP to get a broad assessment of your overall physical health. With eight individual measurements, it can check several body functions and processes, including:

  • Your kidney function and health.
  • Your blood sugar levels.
  • The acid and base balance in your blood.
  • Your fluid and electrolyte balance.

Your provider may also order a BMP if you’re experiencing a more general symptom, such as:

  • Fatigue.
  • Confusion.
  • Multiple instances of vomiting.
  • Breathing issues.

Depending on the situation, your provider may order a BMP for the following:

  • Diagnosis: A BMP can help your provider diagnose certain medical conditions.
  • Screening: Screening means attempting to find health issues before you have symptoms. Routine screening helps find certain conditions in their early stages. Since it contains eight different measurements, providers may use a BMP as a part of routine health checkups.
  • Monitoring: If you have a certain medical condition, a BMP can help your provider determine if your treatment is working. BMPs can also help check for side effects of certain medications, especially those that can affect your kidneys. If you’ve had a previous abnormal test, your provider may order a BMP to see if your levels have changed over time.

Why do I need a basic metabolic panel (BMP)?

A basic metabolic panel (BMP) can provide helpful information in many different situations, including:

  • If you’re being treated in an emergency room.
  • If you’re experiencing symptoms related to kidney and/or metabolism issues.
  • If you’re experiencing a general symptom, such as fatigue or vomiting.
  • To monitor certain chronic conditions you may have, such as high blood pressure or kidney disease.
  • If you had a prior test result that was abnormal to see if your levels have changed or remain abnormal.
  • If you’re starting a new medication that can affect your kidney function.

What is the difference between a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) and a basic metabolic panel (BMP)?

A BMP and a CMP are similar. They’re both considered routine, go-to blood tests. The difference is that a CMP includes 14 individual tests — the same eight tests as a BMP, plus six more tests. The additional six tests measure certain proteins and liver enzymes in your blood. The additional tests in a CMP include:

  • Total protein: This is a rough measurement of the total amount of albumin and globulins, which are proteins in your blood. Several kinds of these proteins deal with blood vessel and immune system function.
  • Bilirubin: This is a waste product that’s made from the breakdown of red blood cells. Your liver is in charge of removing bilirubin from your body.
  • Albumin: This is a protein that your liver makes. It transports important substances through your bloodstream and keeps fluid from leaking out of your blood vessels.

A CMP also measures the following three liver enzymes. Enzymes are substances that act as a catalyst and allow certain bodily processes to happen.

  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP).
  • Alanine transaminase (ALT).
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST).

Your healthcare provider may order a CMP instead of a BMP to get a more complete picture of your overall health and/or to help diagnose or monitor liver disease or other specific conditions.

Test Details

Who performs a basic metabolic panel test?

A healthcare provider called a phlebotomist usually performs blood draws, including those for BMPs and CMPs, but any healthcare provider who is trained in drawing blood can perform this task. The samples are sent to a lab where a medical laboratory scientist prepares the samples and performs the tests on machines known as analyzers.

Do I need to fast for a basic metabolic panel (BMP)?

You will likely need to fast for at least eight hours before your basic metabolic panel blood test. Fasting for this blood panel means not eating or drinking anything other than water. Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions when they order the test for you.

What should I expect during a basic metabolic panel blood test?

You can expect to experience the following during a blood test, or blood draw:

  • You’ll sit in a chair, and a healthcare provider will check your arms for an easily accessible vein. This is usually in the inner part of your arm on the other side of your elbow.
  • Once they’ve located a vein, they’ll clean and disinfect the area.
  • They’ll then insert a small needle into your vein to take a blood sample. This may feel like a small pinch.
  • After they insert the needle, a small amount of blood will collect in a test tube.
  • Once they have enough blood to test, they’ll remove the needle and hold a cotton ball or gauze on the site to stop the bleeding.
  • They’ll place a bandage over the site, and you’ll be finished.

The entire procedure usually takes less than five minutes.

What should I expect after my basic metabolic panel blood test?

After a healthcare provider has collected your blood sample, they’ll send it to a laboratory for testing. Once the test results are back, your healthcare provider will share the results with you.

What are the risks of a basic metabolic panel blood test?

Blood tests are a very common and essential part of medical testing and screening. There’s very little risk to having blood tests. You may have slight tenderness or a bruise at the site of the blood draw, but this usually resolves quickly.

When can I expect the results of my basic metabolic panel test?

In most cases, you should get the results of your BMP within 1 to 2 days, though it could take longer.

If you’re being treated in an emergency room and undergo a BMP, your provider should have the test results within hours.

Results and Follow-Up

What do the results of a basic metabolic panel (BMP) mean?

Blood test reports, including basic metabolic panel test reports, usually provide the following information:

  • The name of the blood test or what was measured in your blood.
  • The number or measurement of your blood test result.
  • The normal measurement range for that test.
  • Information that indicates if your result is normal or abnormal or high or low.

If any single BMP result or a combination of results are not normal, it may indicate — but not guarantee — many different health conditions, including:

A BMP can also diagnose or help diagnose acute (sudden and severe) conditions, including:

If you have an abnormal result, your healthcare provider will likely have you undergo additional tests to confirm or rule out a specific diagnosis. If you have questions about your results, don’t be afraid to talk to your provider.

Should I be concerned if I have abnormal basic metabolic panel test results?

If one of your BMP results is abnormal, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have a medical condition. Other factors, such as diet, certain medications and health conditions, can affect your test results. There could’ve also been an error in the processing of the test.

Your healthcare provider will take into consideration your medical history and current medications and your results and let you know if you need to undergo further testing.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A basic metabolic panel is a helpful and common blood test that broadly assesses your physical health. Know that having an abnormal level in one of your BMP results doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition. Many other factors can affect your results. Approximately 1 in 20 healthy people will have a result outside of the normal range. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you need to undergo further tests to determine the cause of the abnormal level. Don’t be afraid to ask your provider questions. They’re there to help you.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/04/2021.

References

  • Lab Tests Online. Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP). Accessed 9/7/2021.
  • MedlinePlus. Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP). (https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/basic-metabolic-panel-bmp/) Accessed 9/7/2021.

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