What is a basic metabolic panel (BMP)?
A basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a test that measures eight different substances in your blood. It provides important information about your body’s chemical balance and metabolism. Metabolism is the process of how the body uses food and energy. A BMP includes tests for the following:
- Glucose, a type of sugar and your body’s main source of energy.
- Calcium, one of the body’s most important minerals. Calcium is essential for proper functioning of your nerves, muscles, and heart.
- Sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, and chloride. These are electrolytes, electrically charged minerals that help control the amount of fluids and the balance of acids and bases in your body.
- BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and creatinine, waste products removed from your blood by your kidneys.
Abnormal levels of any of these substances or combination of them can be a sign of a serious health problem.
Other names: chemistry panel, chemistry screen, chem 7, electrolyte panel
What is it used for?
A BMP is used to check different body functions and processes, including:
- Kidney function
- Fluid and electrolyte balance
- Blood sugar levels
- Acid and base balance
Why do I need a BMP?
A BMP is often done as part of a regular checkup. You may also need this test if you:
- Are being treated in the emergency room
- Are being monitored for certain chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or kidney disease
What happens during a BMP?
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?
You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for eight hours before the test.
Are there any risks to the test?
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
What do the results mean?
If any one result or combination of BMP results were not normal, it can indicate a number of different conditions. These include kidney disease, breathing problems, and complications related to diabetes. You will likely need more tests to confirm or rule out a specific diagnosis.
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Is there anything else I need to know about a BMP?
There is a similar test to a BMP called a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP). A CMP includes the same eight tests as a BMP, plus six more tests, which measure certain proteins and liver enzymes. The additional tests are:
- Albumin, a protein made in the liver
- Total protein, which measures the total amount of protein in the blood
- ALP (alkaline phosphatase), ALT (alanine transaminase), and AST (aspartate aminotransferase). These are different enzymes made by the liver.
- Bilirubin, a waste product made by the liver
Your provider may order a CMP instead of a BMP to get a more complete picture of the health of your organs or to check for liver disease or other specific conditions.