Learning lab values for nursing can be very overwhelming but I want you to take a deep. You CAN pass the NCLEX by knowing just a few labs (about 17).
When you begin your first job, you will be introduced to the most critical labs the nursing staff needs to know for that floor.
As you see them every shift, they will become burned into your brain.
There are also some common lab values that are important to monitor with cardiac patients. First and foremost is Potassium. The normal potassium level is 3.5 to 5 and any deviation from that most commonly presents with EKG changes and dysrhythmias like V-Fib or V-Tach.
Low potassium causes a U wave (a dip after the T wave) or ST depression (it goes down) and can also increase the risk of digoxin toxicity. High potassium causes Peaked T waves and a Widened QRS (high = bigger and taller). It’s also important to monitor magnesium because it has a direct effect on the contractility of the heart muscle and can cause heart blocks or even V-Tach.
The BNP or B-Natriuretic Peptide is indicative of how severely the heart muscle is being stretched. The higher it is, the worse the heart failure and volume overload. We also monitor H&H for volume status and possible anemia, as well as a Lipid and cholesterol panel due to the risks associated with atherosclerosis.