Getting routine blood tests is one of the most important ways to keep track of your overall health. Being tested at routine intervals can allow you to see how your body is changing over time and allow you to make timely and informed decisions about your health.
Importantly, blood tests can be used to help your doctor identify a variety of health conditions, including vitamin deficiencies, organ failure, HIV, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more. Some blood tests can help your doctor determine how different organs in your body are working, whether you may be at risk of developing a medical condition, or indicate whether the medications you’re taking are working properly.
What are the important blood tests and why?
There are many important blood tests that doctors can prescribe to help them assess your health, however the 10 most important ones are:
1. Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count (CBC) checks for levels of 10 different components of every major cell in your blood: white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Examples of these results include hematocrit, hemoglobin, red blood cell count, and white blood cell count. It is often included as part of a regular checkup. Abnormal levels of these components may represent; clotting problems, blood cancer, infection, nutritional deficiencies, anemia, and immune system disorders.
2. Basic metabolic panel
A basic metabolic panel (BMP) measures common electrolytes in the blood as well as other compounds. The 9 main ones are: calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, chloride, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine. Abnormal results in your BMP may indicate possible kidney disease, diabetes or hormone imbalances.
3. Comprehensive metabolic panel
A comprehensive or complete metabolic panel (CMP) includes all the measurements of a BMP as well as two additional protein tests; albumin and total protein, and four tests indicative of liver function; ALP, ALT, AST, and bilirubin. Here’s a short description on each of these:
- alkaline phosphatase (ALP), is an enzyme mostly found in the bones and liver that’s involved in several bodily processes
- alanine aminotransferase (ALT), is an enzyme that is found in the liver
- aspartate aminotransferase (AST), is an enzyme that is found in the liver and other tissues within the body
- bilirubin, is waste resulting from the breakdown of red blood cells that the liver filters out
4. Lipid pane
A lipid panel measures the amount of cholesterol in the body. There are two types of cholesterol that it measures;
- high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol
- low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol
HDL is said to “good” because it removes harmful substances from your blood and helps the liver break them down into waste. LDL is said to be “bad” because it can cause plaque to develop in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease.
5. Cardiac biomarkers
Enzymes are proteins that help your body accomplish certain chemical processes, such as breaking down food and clotting blood. They’re used throughout your body for many vital functions. There are many types of blood enzyme tests. Some of the most common types are troponin and creatine kinase tests. These tests are used to find out if you’ve had a heart attack and/or if your heart muscle is damaged.
6. Thyroid panel
Your thyroid is a tiny gland in your neck. It helps regulate bodily functions like your mood, energy level, and overall metabolism. A thyroid panel, or thyroid function test, checks how well your thyroid is producing and reacting to certain hormones, such as:
- Triiodothyronine (T3). Along with T4, this regulates your heart rate and body temperature.
- Thyroxine (T4). Along with T3, this regulates your metabolism and how you grow.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This helps regulate the levels of hormones your thyroid releases.
Abnormal levels of these hormones can indicate numerous conditions, such as; low protein levels, thyroid growth disorders or abnormal levels of testosterone or estrogen.
7. Sexually transmitted infection tests
Many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be diagnosed using a blood sample. These tests are often combined with urine samples or swabs of infected tissue for more accurate diagnoses. STIs that can be diagnosed with blood tests include; chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV and syphilis. It’s important to note that blood tests aren’t always accurate right after contracting an infection. For an HIV infection, for example, you may need to wait at least a month before a blood test can detect the virus.
8. Coagulation panel
Clotting is a crucial process that helps you stop bleeding after a cut or wound. But a clot in a vein or artery can be deadly since it can block blood flow to your brain, heart, or lungs. This can cause a heart attack or stroke. Coagulation tests measure how well your blood clots and how long it takes for your blood to clot. The results vary based on your health and any underlying conditions that may affect clotting.
Results from this test can be used to diagnose illnesses such as; leukemia, hemophilia (excessive bleeding), liver conditions and vitamin K deficiency.
9. DHEA-sulfate serum test
The dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) hormone comes from your adrenal glands. This test measures whether it’s too high or too low. In men, DHEA helps develop traits like body hair growth, so low levels are considered abnormal. In women, high levels can cause typically male traits, like excess body hair, to develop, so low levels are normal.
Low levels may be caused by illnesses such as; Addison’s disease or conditions such as; adrenal dysfunction or hypopituitarism.
High levels in men or women can result from conditions such as; polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or an ovarian tumor.
10. C-Reactive Protein test
C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is made by your liver when tissues in your body are inflamed. High CRP levels indicate inflammation from a variety of causes. These can include but are not limited to; bacterial or viral infection, autoimmune diseases, such Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation related to diabetes, to physical trauma or from habits like smoking and cancer.
Do I need blood tests?
If you are showing concerning symptoms of any illness or long-term condition, visit your doctor for a checkup. They will conduct a physical examination and let you know what kinds of blood tests you’ll need to undergo.
If you do not have access to a physician and would like to schedule a private pay consultation with a physician to discuss your current symptoms and possibly get a prescription for blood tests, please contact us at Clinique Santé Mobile GP, and we will set it up for you! Email: INFO@cliniqueGP.com / Tel (438) 807-4388
Taking blood tests on a yearly basis is one of the best steps adults can take to maximize their well-being and prevent serious diseases. Blood tests can warn you before your health takes a turn for the worse. You can identify and address many issues before they become more serious, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, or other chronic illnesses that plague our modern society. This proactive approach to health could add years to your life, even decades in some cases.
It’s recommended that you get a blood test done at least once a year during your annual checkup. If you have pre-existing conditions like hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes, you may need to increase your blood work every three or six months, depending on the recommendation of your provider.