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The Test Sample
What is being tested?
Albumin is a protein made by the liver. It makes up about 60% of the total protein in the blood and plays many roles. It keeps fluid from leaking out of blood vessels; nourishes tissues; and transports hormones, vitamins, drugs, and ions like calcium throughout the body. The concentration of albumin in the blood is a reflection of liver function and of nutritional status. This test measures the level of albumin in the blood.
Levels of albumin may decrease, to a greater or lesser degree, when conditions interfere with its production, increase protein breakdown, increase protein loss, and/or expand plasma volume (diluting the blood). Some of these conditions include:
- Acute liver disease, cirrhosis
- Nephrotic syndrome due to kidney disease
- Chronic inflammatory diseases, inflammation
- Malnutrition and malabsorption
- Chronic illness
- Carcinoid syndrome
- Plasma volume expansion due to congestive heart failure, sometimes pregnancy
Albumin levels can rise when a person is dehydrated. This is a relative increase that occurs as the volume of plasma decreases.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is taken by a needle from a vein.
NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.
Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.