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Understanding Electrolytes: Important Diagnostic Clues to Patient Status, American Academy of Physician Assistants Reveals



1/8/2013 8:08:23 AM

In the clinical setting, measurement of the electrolytes, or solutes, in the blood is one of the most frequently ordered laboratory tests. The test is known by many names, including electrolytes, 'lytes, basic metabolic profile (BMP), serum chemistries, CHEM-7, CHEM-10, and sequential multiple analysis-7 (SMA-7). Interpretation of the results provides information about volume status, acid-base status, and baseline renal function. Evaluating any disequilibrium in electrolytes can be challenging and requires an understanding of the pathophysiology of diseases that can cause electrolyte imbalances; the counterregulatory pathways of the body to correct the imbalance; and the various approaches to augmenting the specific electrolyte through use of medications, specific electrolyte replacement, or removal of the electrolyte. Understanding these disturbances can improve patient care, be cost-effective, prevent complications from primary disease, and ultimately reduce mortality and morbidity.

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