How to Read Blood Ketone Test Results

What the Numbers Mean

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If you are living with diabetes, chances are you've probably had your blood or urine tested for ketones. When your body doesn't have enough insulin to absorb glucose it breaks down fats for energy, creating ketones as a byproduct. Everyone produces ketones, but if you have diabetes, you have a greater risk of ketones building up in your blood, which can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis. Both people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes can develop diabetic ketoacidosis. That said, it is more common in people with type 1 diabetes. 

Interpreting Your Blood Test Results

Ketone blood testing is the preferred method for assessing the presence of ketones during times of sickness. Urine test strips can be used, but the American Diabetes Association recommends using blood ketone tests because they are more accurate and timely.

Blood ketone tests use different measurements than the numbers you are familiar with on your glucose meter. When using a combination home blood glucose and ketone meter, such as the Precision Xtra Meter by Abbott Labs, or if you have your blood drawn and assessed at a lab, the results will fall into one of the following three ranges:

  • Below 0.6 mmol/L: If your reading is below 0.6 you are in the normal range.
  • 0.6 to 1.5 mmol/L: If your number is in this range you have the presence of ketones in your blood, which may develop into a problem if not treated. You should be in touch with your healthcare provider and follow his or her instructions.
  • Above 1.5 mmol/L: Readings above 1.5 indicate a greater risk for developing ketoacidosis (DKA). You should immediately contact your healthcare provider for advice. Readings above 3.0 mmd/L may warrant a trip to the nearest emergency room for immediate treatment.

If you are testing your blood or urine at home and are concerned about the accuracy of your test, make sure the items you are using aren't expired and follow-up with your doctor for repeat testing.

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Article Sources
  • The Importance of Blood Ketone Testing in Diabetes Management. Managed Care.