Do you know what’s going on inside your body? Blood tests are one of the most effective ways to get a glimpse into your overall health, depending on which we can detect diseases early and make informed decisions about our lifestyle.
But with so many different types of blood tests available, it can be really hard to know which ones are the most important.
Fear not; we are here to help you!
We will delve into the top twelve important tests, what they show, and how often you should take them to monitor your health. They are as follows:
1. Complete Blood Count
Do you ever feel tired or run down but can’t quite figure out why? Or you may have noticed that you bruise more easily than usual. If so, you might want to consider getting a complete blood count (CBC) test.
This test measures the different types of cells in your blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It can also detect any abnormalities in these cells that could indicate an underlying health condition.
For example, a CBC can show if you have anemia, which means you have a low red blood cell count, or if you have an infection, which can cause an increase in your white blood cell count. It can also help diagnose leukemia or lymphoma – affecting the blood cells.
If you have a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend getting a CBC more often to monitor your health.
You can get a blood test done easily by ordering a home blood test kit from contact-free cloud clinics like Blue Horizon Blood Tests.
Getting this test done at least once a year is recommended as part of your routine health check-up.
2. Basic Metabolic Panel
The basic metabolic panel (BMP) is a group of tests that provide important information about your body’s overall health. It typically includes tests that measure your blood glucose levels, electrolyte balance, kidney function, and liver function.
These tests can help the doctor detect and monitor conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease. The BMP usually includes sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, glucose, and calcium tests.
Each of these tests provides important information about your body’s overall function. For example, the sodium and potassium tests can help your doctor assess the electrolyte balance, while the glucose test can help diagnose or monitor diabetes.
It’s often recommended as a routine test every 1-2 years, especially if you have a family history of diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease.
3. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) is a more extensive version of the BMP that includes some extra tests to help your doctor assess your body’s overall health. In addition to the tests included in the BMP, the CMP typically includes tests for protein, albumin, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT).
This diagnosis, in return, can help your doctor identify and monitor conditions such as liver disease, gallbladder disease, and bone disease. For instance, the albumin and bilirubin tests can help the healthcare professional assess your liver function, while the alkaline phosphatase test can help diagnose or monitor bone disease.
As a general guideline, the CMP may be recommended less frequently (every 3-5 years) for patients with no significant health issues or risk factors.
4. Lipid Panel
Moving on to the Lipid Panel test, this one is specifically designed to measure your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a type of fat that is naturally produced by your liver and is essential for the proper functioning of your body. However, high cholesterol levels can lead to various health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
The Lipid Panel test measures your levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
One thing to note is that before the test, you may need to fast for at least 8 hours or more, as the doctor recommends.
Based on the results of this test, your doctor can recommend lifestyle changes or medication to help you manage your cholesterol levels. Adults must take this test at least once every five years or more frequently if they have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease.
5. Thyroid Panel
The Thyroid Panel is a blood test that measures your thyroid hormone levels. The thyroid gland produces hormones that are crucial in regulating metabolism, energy levels, body temperature, and heart rate. The Thyroid Panel measures the levels of two main thyroid hormones – T3 and T4 – as well as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
This test is useful in diagnosing thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Symptoms of thyroid disorders can include fatigue, weight gain or loss, mood changes, and changes in your menstrual cycle.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if you have a family history of thyroid disorders, your doctor may recommend a Thyroid Panel blood test. It’s also a common test that’s done as part of routine health checkups every 5 years beginning from the age of 35 or more.
6. Cardiac Biomarkers
Now, let’s talk about cardiac biomarkers. These blood tests measure the levels of certain proteins in your blood that can indicate heart damage or disease. Cardiac biomarkers often diagnose and monitor conditions such as heart attacks, heart failure, and angina.
The most common cardiac biomarkers include troponin, creatine kinase (CK), and myoglobin. When heart muscle cells are damaged, these proteins are released into the bloodstream, indicating a problem with the heart. By measuring the levels of these proteins, the doctor can assess your risk for heart disease and determine the appropriate course of treatment.
Most people should have a cardiac biomarker test every three to five years as part of a routine physical exam. However, your doctor may recommend more frequent testing if you have a family history of heart disease or have risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
7. Sexually Transmitted Infection Tests
Sexually transmitted infection tests are blood tests that are used to check for the presence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in your body.
These tests can check for various STIs, including HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and herpes. Unusual discharge, sores, or itching in your genital area are some common symptoms of STIs.
Getting tested for STIs is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it can help you protect your health and prevent the spread of these infections to others.
Many STIs can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not even realize you have them. Hence, by getting tested regularly, you can catch any infections early on and get the treatment you need to stay healthy.
How often you should get tested depends on your individual risk factors, but in general, it’s a good idea to get tested at least once a year or more frequently if you are sexually active and have multiple partners.
8. Coagulation Panel
The coagulation panel is a blood test that measures how well your blood is clotting. This test is important because if your blood doesn’t clot properly, you may be at risk for excessive bleeding or blood clots, leading to serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes.
The coagulation panel measures various factors that affect blood clotting, including clotting factors, platelet counts, and fibrinogen levels. Your doctor may recommend a coagulation panel if you have a bleeding disorder, are on blood-thinning medication, or have a family history of blood clotting disorders.
9. DHEA-Sulfate Serum Test
The DHEA-sulfate serum test measures the level of a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in your blood. DHEA, produced by the adrenal glands, is a precursor to male and female sex hormones. This hormone is important for maintaining energy, mood, and overall health.
As we age, our bodies produce less DHEA, which can lead to various health issues. A DHEA-sulfate serum test can help you determine if your DHEA levels are too low or too high.
If your levels are too low, you may experience fatigue, depression, and a weakened immune system. On the other hand, if your levels are too high, it could be a sign of an adrenal gland disorder or cancer.
As for how often you should take this test, it really depends on your age and overall health. Generally speaking, if you are over 40 or have a family history of adrenal gland disorders, you may want to consider getting this test done once a year.
10. C-reactive Protein Test
The C-reactive protein (CRP) test measures the level of a protein in your blood that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation. Inflammation is a normal immune response that helps your body fight off infection and heal damaged tissue.
However, when it becomes chronic, it can contribute to various health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
A C-reactive protein test can help your doctor identify chronic inflammation in your body and help them give you a more informed treatment decision and lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.
For example, if your C-reactive protein levels are high, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet or exercise routine or prescribe medication to help manage inflammation.
If you have a family history of chronic inflammatory conditions or heart diseases, your doctor may consider getting this test done once a year to ensure they are under control. However, if you are generally healthy and don’t have any risk factors, you may not need to get this test done as often.
11. Fasting Blood Sugar
Do you love to indulge in sugary treats but also worry about your blood sugar levels? If so, you might want to consider getting a fasting blood sugar test. This test measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood after you have fasted for at least 8 hours.
Glucose is the main energy source for your body, but too much glucose in your blood can be a sign of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Once you get the test and find out your blood sugar levels, you can opt for ways to keep your blood glucose low.
If your levels are too high, it could mean that your body isn’t producing enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. If left untreated, high blood sugar can lead to serious health complications, such as nerve damage, kidney damage, and heart disease.
Hence, it’s important to get tested regularly, especially if you have a family history of diabetes or if you are experiencing symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, or fatigue. Your doctor may recommend this test once a year or more frequently if you are at potential risk for diabetes.
12. Kidney Function Tests
Did you know that your kidneys filter waste products out of your blood and regulate your body’s fluid balance?
If your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, it can lead to serious health problems. That’s why getting regular kidney function tests, such as a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test or a creatinine test is important.
Kidney function tests can be especially important if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of kidney disease. By monitoring your kidney function over time, you and your doctor can catch potential issues early and take steps to protect your kidney health.
So how often should you get these tests? Again, it depends on your risk factors and overall health.
If you have a chronic condition that affects your kidneys, your doctor may recommend getting kidney function tests once or twice a year. However, if you are generally healthy but have risk factors for kidney disease, your doctor may recommend getting these tests every few years.
Taking care of our health is essential, and regular blood tests are valuable in achieving this. Hopefully, by going through the article, you now understand the importance of these twelve crucial blood tests and how often they should be taken to stay on top of any potential health issues.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure! Hence, don’t wait until it’s too late; schedule your blood tests today and take the first step towards a healthier life.