Regular blood testing is an important way to keep track of your overall well-being. Getting testing regularly can help you visualize the changes your body undergoes as you age and empower you to make informed decisions about your health.
Blood tests provide a crucial picture of your overall health and well-being. These investigations aid in the early identification of an illness, which in turn, can avoid its progression into more severe stages. They can also help you in putting a tab on how well your body responds to different treatments for your diseases.
How often should you be tested?
Your doctor can usually recommend getting your routine blood testing done at least once a year. Other causes that can prompt you to take blood tests are:
- If you desire a change in lifestyle patterns. Abnormalities in different parameters such as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can help you alter your diet or fitness plan
- If you are experiencing unusual, persistent symptoms such as fatigue, abnormal weight gain or loss, or new pain
- If you are at an increased risk of certain conditions due to family history or lifestyle habits.
- If you want to assess or reduce the risk of diseases or complications as regular blood tests can identify the warning signs of most of the diseases.
- Here is the list of the top ten routine blood tests that have a pivotal role in maintaining good health and stay worry-free of the sneaking health concerns:
1. Complete blood count (Hemogram)
A routine complete blood count test measures levels of different components of every major cell in your blood, including:
- Red blood cells (RBCs)
- White blood cells (WBCs)
- Hemoglobin (protein in RBCs)
- Mean corpuscular volume
and some more blood parameter.
The abnormal levels of these lab tests can indicate:
- Lack of enough blood cells
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B6 or B12
- Tissue inflammation
- Iron deficiency
- Signs of an infection
- Heart conditions.
2. Electrolytes panel
A basic electrolytes test comprises of measurement of certain mineral compounds in the blood, such as:
Abnormality in these parameters suggests dehydration, malnutrition, or hormone imbalances, etc.
3. Liver panel
A liver panel or liver function test checks different parameters such as enzymes, proteins, and other substances produced by the liver. Some of the important values that a liver function test provides include:
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
- Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
- Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
Raised levels of these components can indicate liver diseases such as fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc., while reduced ALP levels could be a diagnostic marker of bone metabolic disorders.
4. Lipid panel
This test determines the levels of different types of cholesterol and related fats in the blood. It usually includes:
- HDL or “good” cholesterol
- LDL or “bad” cholesterol
- Total cholesterol.
This panel is done to assess the risk of heart diseases, especially in older individuals. The results of this test can also influence and improve your lifestyle choices.
5. Thyroid panel
A thyroid panel, or thyroid function tests, evaluates how well your thyroid is producing and reacting to certain hormones. It includes:
- Triiodothyronine (T3): This hormone in combination with T4 regulates your heart rate and body temperature.
- Thyroxine (T4): Along with T3, this hormone regulates your metabolism.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): This hormone modulates the levels of hormones your thyroid releases.
Abnormal levels of these hormones can result into numerous conditions, like low protein levels, thyroid growth disorders, and abnormal levels of sex hormones including testosterone or estrogen.
6. Diabetes panel
Your clinician will evaluate your test results and determine how well controlled your blood sugar is. HbA1c test evaluates the amount of glucose in the body and is mainly done to monitor the sugar control of a diabetic patient. They can also aid in analysing possible diabetes or pre-diabetic individual.
7. Test for essential nutrients
Most people are deficient in these nutrients for different reasons, hence, it is imperative to evaluate these levels and supplement them when they are not adequate. Supplementation of these nutrients can prevent several disorders such as iron deficiency anemia, risk of falls, fractures, acute or chronic pain etc.
8. Inflammatory markers
Tests for inflammatory markers include C-reactive protein (CRP) and homocysteine. Raised levels of CRP is indicative of inflammation in the body and is related with an increased risk of cardiac events, artery inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis or depression.
Elevations in the level of homocysteine, a common amino acid suggest a spectrum of conditions such as stroke and heart disease, vitamin B6, B12 and folate status, and kidney diseases.
9. Coagulation panel
Coagulation tests include prothrombin time (PT) test and international normalized ratio (INR), these two measure the ability of your body to clot blood and the time taken for blood clotting. Clotting is a crucial process for the body and these blood tests can prevent you from bleeding out in case of an injury, surgical procedure, etc.
In addition, outcome of these tests can diagnose any underlying conditions associated with improper clotting, such as:
- Acute myeloid leukemia
- Liver conditions
- Vitamin K deficiency.
Diagnostic tests are often described with a slogan like “prevention is better than cure”. Early diagnosis of certain diseases can offer prevention against its progression into a more severe form. However, these lab tests are often not suitable to make a final diagnosis. Numerous blood tests are used initially to detect any abnormality, which is further correlated with other investigations with the help of a healthcare professional to obtain a final diagnosis.
The majority of blood tests require fasting for 8–12 hours, which can ensure that the results of the test are free from any variables including vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients, so as to make your test results as accurate as possible.
Hence, it is necessary to get routine blood tests done at least once a year. Always take your doctor’s advice to understand whether you require any other tests to ensure optimal health.