You must use the range supplied by the laboratory that performed your test to evaluate whether your results are 'within normal limits'.
This may be due to differences in lab testing equipment, chemical reagents, and analysis techniques. Most people can now access their lab test results directly via the Internet, but very few lab reports have been designed to convey the meaning of those results in a way people who are not health professionals can understand or put in context. The information provided in this article will help you understand:
Why so few reference ranges are provided in the test information on this site: the accuracy of laboratory testing has significantly evolved over the past few decades, but some lab-to-lab variability can occur.
Tests results-all medical data-can only be understood once all the pieces are together. You can take your resting heart rate right now by putting your fingers on your pulse and counting for a minute. If a patient's results are outside the range for that test, it does not automatically mean that the result is abnormal. Most people know that the 'average' heart rate is about 70 beats per minute. Your heart rate, like any medical observation, must be considered in context. The term reference values is increasing in use and is often used interchangeably with reference range. Therefore, today 'reference range' or 'reference values' are considered the more appropriate terms, for reasons explained on the next page. How do you know what a 'normal' heart rate is? We know this on the basis of taking the pulse rate of millions of people over time. Without the proper context, any observation or test result is meaningless. The interpretation of any clinical laboratory test must consider this important concept when comparing the patient results to the test 'reference range'.Take one of the simplest medical indicators of all-your heart rate. The term 'normal range' is not used very much today because it is considered to be misleading. To understand what is normal for you, your doctor must know what is normal for most other people of your age and what you were doing at the time-or just before-the test or observation was conducted. You probably also know that if you are a regular runner or are otherwise in good physical condition, your pulse rate could be considerably lower-so a pulse rate of 55 could also be 'normal.' Say you walk up a hill-your heart rate is now 120 beats a minute. For simplicity, we use the term reference range in this article. That would be high for a resting heart rate but 'normal' for the rate during this kind of activity.