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List of All the Tests You Should Perform Every Year

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List of All the Tests You Should Perform Every Year

These tests analyze the behavior of substances like proteins, cells, or chemicals in your blood.

List of All the Tests You Should Perform Every Year. Blood tests are valuable tools used by doctors to identify a wide range of health conditions, such as infections, anemia, high cholesterol, vitamin deficiencies, organ failure, HIV, cancer, diabetes, and more.

These tests analyze the behavior of substances like proteins, cells, or chemicals in your blood, providing doctors with a comprehensive view of your overall health. They play a crucial role in diagnosing various diseases, monitoring chronic conditions, assessing organ function, and evaluating immune system strength. Regular blood testing is essential for maintaining awareness of your overall physical well-being.

What do blood tests check for?

Blood tests help your doctor assess the functioning of different organs in your body. Malfunctions in organs such as the heart, thyroid, liver, or kidneys can be detected through these tests.

Blood tests are also employed by your doctor to detect markers of various diseases and health conditions, including diabetes, HIV, anemia, cancer, and coronary heart disease. They can even reveal potential risks for developing heart disease, even if the person currently does not have the condition.

Additionally, blood tests can assess the effectiveness of medications you are taking and evaluate your blood clotting ability.

You would typically need a blood test in the following situations:

During your annual checkup, your doctor might request a comprehensive blood analysis like the complete blood count (CBC). If you’re at an increased risk of a particular health issue due to genetic factors or other reasons, a specialized blood test may be recommended. This could be to monitor an existing condition’s progression or assess the effectiveness of your ongoing treatment. If you’re experiencing symptoms, a blood test can help confirm a suspected diagnosis or determine if further specialized tests are necessary. Pregnancy often involves blood tests to assess overall health and blood type. Prior to surgery, blood tests may be conducted to identify any potential risks during the procedure, such as excessive bleeding tendencies.

Monitoring blood components like HDL and LDL cholesterol levels can also be beneficial for optimizing health through diet and exercise adjustments. Routine blood tests are advised, including lipid tests every five years starting at age 20 for those with a low heart disease risk. Individuals at higher risk may require more frequent lipid testing. Additionally, blood glucose tests are recommended for overweight individuals aged 40-70 and screenings for colorectal cancer typically start at age 45, with tests like fecal occult blood tests or colonoscopies as per your doctor’s guidance.

Exploring Key Blood Tests

Diving into essential blood tests, let’s begin with the complete blood count (CBC). This standard test assesses 10 vital components of major blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.

Key parameters measured by this test encompass red blood cell count, hemoglobin levels, and hematocrit. Typical ranges for these components may slightly vary between laboratories:

  • Red blood cells (responsible for oxygen transport): male: 4.5–6.1 × 10^6/ microleter (μL); female: 4.0–5.4 × 10^6/μL
  • White blood cells (immune system cells): male: 4.0–10.8 × 10^3/μL; female: 4.0–10.8 × 10^3/μL
  • Platelets (control blood clotting): male: 150–400 × 10^3/μL; female: 150–400 × 10^3/μL
  • Hemoglobin (oxygen carrier): male: 13.0–17.0 grams/deciliter (g/dL); female: 12.0–16.0 g/dL
  • Hematocrit (percentage of red blood cells): male: 40–52%; female: 37–47%

Interpretation of CBC results can reveal insights into various health aspects such as nutritional deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B6 or B12), anemia (iron deficiency), clotting disorders, blood cancers, infections, and immune system irregularities. Following abnormal findings, your doctor may recommend further tests to confirm diagnoses or assess specific health concerns.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) typically assesses the levels of eight essential compounds in your blood:

  • Calcium
  • Glucose
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Bicarbonate
  • Chloride
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
  • Creatinine

Depending on your doctor’s instructions and the specific parameters being measured, you may need to fast for at least 8 hours before the blood draw. Abnormal CMP results could signal potential issues such as kidney disease, diabetes, or electrolyte imbalances. In such cases, your doctor will likely recommend follow-up tests to confirm a diagnosis and determine appropriate treatment.

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Extended Metabolic Panel

An extended metabolic panel (EMP), encompassing the parameters of a BMP and additional markers related to liver function, provides a comprehensive assessment. This panel includes:

  • Albumin
  • Total protein
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP), primarily found in bones and liver, playing roles in various bodily processes
  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), a liver enzyme
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST), present in the liver and other body tissues
  • Bilirubin, a byproduct of red blood cell breakdown filtered by the liver

Interpreting EMP results aligns with BMP conclusions for the same substances. Abnormal levels can signify underlying conditions such as:

High Levels: ALP may indicate issues like bile duct blockage, cirrhosis, or hepatitis, while ALT and AST elevation could signal liver-related concerns such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, or liver damage.

Low Levels: ALP can decrease due to bone metabolism disorders or malnourishment, whereas normal ALT and AST levels are expected.

Bilirubin abnormalities may relate to conditions like abnormal red blood cell breakdown, adverse medication reactions, or bile duct blockage, among others. Understanding EMP findings helps in diagnosing and managing various health conditions effectively.

Lipid Panel

The lipid panel assesses the levels of two types of cholesterol in your bloodstream:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often termed as “good” cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol

HDL is beneficial because it aids in removing harmful substances from your blood and assists the liver in breaking them down into waste. Conversely, LDL is considered “bad” as it can lead to the formation of plaque in your arteries, raising the risk of heart disease.

Prior to this test, fasting for at least 8 hours may be necessary.

Heart-healthy levels for HDL cholesterol are typically 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher, while levels below 40 mg/dL are considered a major risk factor for heart disease.

For LDL cholesterol, maintaining levels at 100 mg/dL or lower is optimal for good health, whereas levels exceeding 160 mg/dL are deemed dangerously high. It’s important to note that normal cholesterol levels can vary depending on age.

Thyroid Function Test

A thyroid panel, also known as a thyroid function test, evaluates how effectively your thyroid gland produces and responds to specific hormones, including:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3): Works in conjunction with T4 to regulate heart rate and body temperature.
  • Thyroxine (T4): Alongside T3, it controls metabolism and growth processes.
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): Regulates the release of thyroid hormones.

Your thyroid, situated in your neck, plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions such as mood, energy levels, and overall metabolism.

Here are the typical results for a thyroid panel:

  • T3: 80–180 nanograms per deciliter of blood (ng/dL)
  • T4: 0.8–1.8 ng/dL in adults.
  • TSH: 0.5–4 milli-international units per liter of blood (mIU/L)

Anomalies in these hormone levels can signal various conditions, including low protein levels, thyroid growth abnormalities, and imbalances in testosterone or estrogen levels. The coagulation panel evaluates how effectively your blood clots and the time it takes for clot formation. It typically includes tests like the prothrombin time (PT) test and fibrinogen activity test.

While clotting is crucial for wound healing, clots in veins or arteries can pose serious risks by blocking blood flow to vital organs like the brain, heart, or lungs, potentially leading to heart attacks or strokes. Results from coagulation tests can vary based on your overall health and any underlying conditions affecting clotting. This panel aids in diagnosing conditions such as excessive bleeding (hemophilia), thrombosis, liver disorders, and vitamin K deficiency.

Preparing for a blood test involves several steps to ensure accurate results:

Follow Instructions: Ask your doctor about any specific instructions you need to follow before the test, such as fasting or avoiding certain medications and supplements that could affect the results.

Medication Disclosure: Inform your doctor about all medications and supplements you are taking as they may impact the test outcomes.

Blood Test Ordering:

Your doctor typically orders blood tests during routine checkups, physicals, or when screening for specific health conditions.

You can also order blood tests directly from laboratories like LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics, although insurance coverage may vary for self-ordered tests. However, interpreting the results without medical expertise can be challenging.

Blood Test Locations:

The Blood tests can be done at various locations, including:

  • Private laboratories: Often used by hospitals for specialized tests. Health insurance may require using specific labs in their network.
  • Point-of-care: Done during medical appointments, like in your doctor’s office.
  • Direct access testing: Allows self-ordering of tests without a doctor’s referral at specialized labs.
  • Home testing: Some tests can be done at home with kits from pharmacies, but FDA approval is necessary for these tests.

Blood Test Procedure:

  • During the blood test procedure:
  • The healthcare professional will clean the area and use a needle to draw blood from a vein in your arm.
  • They may tie a rubber band to make veins more visible and ask you to make a fist.
  • After collecting the blood, they’ll remove the needle, cover the site, and you may experience minor discomfort or bruising.

Amount of Blood Drawn:

Usually, a small vial of blood is drawn, typically around 5-20 milliliters, depending on the number of tests required. This amount is much less than what is donated during a blood donation.

How long does it take to get results?

The time it takes to receive blood test results varies, ranging from a few hours to several days. Here’s an approximate timeline for common tests:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): Typically available within 24 hours.
  • Basic Metabolic Panel: Results usually within 24 hours.
  • Complete Metabolic Panel: Results may take 24 to 72 hours.
  • Lipid Panel: Results typically within 24 hours.

The turnaround time depends on the specific laboratory and the number of tests conducted simultaneously. If multiple tests are ordered, the complete results may not be available until all tests are completed.

In some cases, the lab releases results directly to your doctor, who then shares them with you.

Understanding Blood Test Results:

While the format of result reports may vary among laboratories, they must include certain standard components as required by federal regulations.

Key elements to look for in blood test results include:

  • Quantitative Test Result: Numerical values indicating the measured quantity, such as cholesterol levels.
  • Abnormal Markers: Indicators like “H” for high, “L” for low, or “WNL” for within normal limits, highlighting abnormal results. Highly abnormal results may include additional comments or annotations.
  • Reference Range: Each lab sets its own reference range for test values, typically provided alongside your result to show where it falls within the normal range.

Blood tests are valuable for assessing overall health, detecting illnesses early, and evaluating treatment effectiveness. Many individuals undergo routine blood tests annually, and discussing with your doctor can help determine additional tests for optimal health management.

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