How often should you have blood work done, and which tests should you get? The answers to these questions will depend on factors like your age, medical history, and family history.
If you begin experiencing concerning new symptoms, your doctor will likely order blood tests designed to rule out or diagnose various conditions. But does that mean you don’t need to have your blood tested if you’re feeling perfectly fine? Not at all!
One of the best ways for patients to be proactive about their health is by scheduling a baseline blood test, perhaps on an annual basis. These routine tests will paint a picture of the current state of your overall health.
By having these tests performed regularly, you will have a better opportunity to identify any changes or abnormalities, which may signal an underlying health problem. Below are 5 baseline blood tests everyone should get this year.
1. Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count, also known as a CBC, is one of the most common tests ordered by physicians. This test gives information about the cells in a person’s blood by measuring the number of cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Important components measured by a CBC include hemoglobin and hematocrit. Doctors can use these test results to determine general health status, and screen for disorders such as leukemia, anemia, and infections.
2. Basic Metabolic Panel
A basic metabolic panel (BMP) tests the levels of certain compounds in the blood, such as sodium, potassium, glucose, electrolytes, calcium, and carbon dioxide. These results can be used to determine the body’s blood sugar level, kidney function, and lung function.
Diabetes and hormone irregularities may also be identified using a BMP. Typically, patients will be asked to fast for up to 12 hours before this test, in order to ensure accurate results.
3. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
A complete metabolic panel (CMP) includes all the same tests covered by the BMP, but adds several additional tests to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of metabolic functions. Compared to the BMP, the CMP provides an even greater focus on organ systems.
Additional tests included in the complete metabolic panel are total protein, albumin, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and others. Abnormal results may indicate problems affecting the liver or gallbladder.
4. Thyroid Panel
A thyroid panel tests the function and health of your thyroid, and can be used to screen for and diagnose many different thyroid disorders. The most common tests in this panel are thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4). Some doctors will also order testing of triiodothyronine (T3) and T3 resin uptake (RU).
Abnormal thyroid panel results could indicate a wide number of thyroid conditions, such as hormone imbalances and thyroid growth disorders. These tests are especially important for older female patients, who are at a higher risk for these conditions.
5. Lipid Panel
A lipid panel is a collection of tests that measures various types of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Doctors use these tests to evaluate a patient’s high-density lipoprotein (HDL, also known as the “good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol).
Lipid panels also look at total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These tests are used to evaluate cardiovascular risk, especially in older adults, and to prescribe the right type of cholesterol-lowering medications.
At your next annual physical, ask your doctor about the benefits of scheduling annual baseline blood work. Find a Medical Access Point with the lab testing services you require near you.