Regular checkups and important tests to track
After your transplant, it is likely that you may need to have some regular tests done. This is nothing to worry about. It is so your transplant team can monitor your progress and make sure you are on the right track.
If you know what these tests tell you, you may better understand how important they are. You may hear your doctor or transplant team referring to some of these tests as measuring your “vital signs.”
Blood pressure measures the force of the blood as it moves through your arteries. When your heart squeezes or pumps blood into your circulatory system it creates systolic pressure (higher number), whereas when your heart relaxes between beats, this is known as diastolic pressure (lower number). Blood pressure is the higher reading (systolic) over the lower reading (diastolic); for example, 110/70.
According to the American Heart Association, a blood pressure of 120/80 is generally considered normal. You may want to check with your transplant team to see what is normal for you. It is a good idea to report any variations in your blood pressure to your transplant team.
Your pulse is the pressure wave created by the beating of your heart. Your pulse rate is stated as the number of times your heart beats in 1 minute. For example, a pulse of 66 bpm (beats per minute) means that your heart beats 66 times per minute. It may be a good idea to take your pulse at the same time daily, for example in the morning when you take your blood pressure. Ask your transplant team to show you how to take your pulse and tell you what is a normal pulse for you.
Try to take your temperature daily and especially any time you feel like you have a fever or chills. Fever can be a sign of infection or even organ rejection, and an abnormal temperature may indicate that you have a fever. Normal body temperature is about 98.6°F. It is important that you report a fever of 100.5°F or higher to your transplant team.
It may be a good idea to weigh yourself in the morning, after you go to the bathroom and before breakfast. Sudden weight gain could mean you are holding onto fluid. Sudden weight loss may be a sign of dehydration (the result of losing too much body water). Both of these can be bad for your heart and kidney, and so reporting sudden weight gain or loss to your transplant team is important.
Try to take your vital signs as often as your transplant team tell you to.
Your transplant team may recommend that you have the following tests often after your transplant:
|Test||What does it measure?|
|Hematocrit (HCT)||The percentage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells (RBCs) in your blood|
|Hemoglobin (Hgb)||A protein found in RBCs that carries oxygen from your lungs|
|Platelets (Plts)||Platelets help stop bleeding by clumping and forming a clot around an injury|
|Glucose||Shows how well your body is controlling its blood sugar levels|
|Potassium (K)||Potassium is needed for normal heart and muscle function. This helps your kidneys work|
|Sodium (Na)||Sodium helps maintain the balance of salt and water in the body. This helps monitor kidney function|
|Creatinine (Cr)||Creatinine is a waste product that your kidneys normally remove from your blood|
|Cholesterol (Chol)||Cholesterol is a soft, wax-like substance needed for proper functioning of your body. However, too much cholesterol in your blood may increase the risk of heart disease|
|Triglycerides||Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood|
|Uric acid||Uric acid is a byproduct of the processing of certain foods and is eliminated from your body through your kidneys|
|White blood cell (WBC) count||White blood cells (leukocytes) fight off infection. They also play a role in organ rejection|
Blood pressure values according to the American Heart Association, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp, accessed October 14, 2014.
Test information according to Kidney Link, www.kidneylink.org/TransplantTestsAndEvaluations.aspx, accessed October 14, 2014.