Blood tests are laboratory investigations and evaluations that help doctors look for certain diseases and conditions. They also help examine the function of your organs and show how well treatments are working. Specifically, blood tests can help doctors:
- Evaluate how well your body and organs are working
- Diagnose diseases and conditions
- Find out whether you have risk factors for certain diseases. Even if a person does not have a certain disease or condition, a blood test can show whether they may be at risk of developing the condition.
- Check whether the medications you’re taking are helping
- Assess how well your blood is clotting
The best time to have a comprehensive health screening or blood health screening is when you are feeling well. If you waited until a stroke or heart attack occurred, you might have waited too long.
Here are some important blood tests that could save your life.
CBC stands for Complete Blood Count, otherwise known as Full Blood Count. This is the most common and basic test that is ordered by doctors to have a good overview of what’s happening in your blood. In this test, your doctor will be looking at your Red Blood Cells (RBC), White Blood Cells (WBC), Platelets and the different components within these groups. Your WBC contains neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. These are the fighting mechanisms of your body, and they are important in fighting infection and inflammation. Sometimes these components may be high or low and the overall results will guide your doctor on the diagnosis. For instance, with some sort of infection, your WBC tends to be high and you may have a high number of neutrophils.
The other component of your CBC is your red cells, and when looking at your red cells, the doctor is looking at the haemoglobin – is it high or is it low? It could be high if you happen to be dehydrated, but low if you’re iron deficient, or have thalassemia etcetera. Also, the doctor will look at your red cell count, the mean cell volume that determines the size of your red blood cells. They can be large with certain conditions such as Vitamin B12 deficiency or liver disease. They can be small in certain disorders such as Iron Deficiency Anemia or Thalassemia. Platelets, on the other hand, give your doctor lots of information regarding bleeding or clotting problems.
BMP/CMP stands for Basic Metabolic Panel/Comprehensive Metabolic Panel and they are used to assess your electrolytes, renal function and liver function. These include your calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, chloride, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, albumin, total protein, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and bilirubin level. Abnormal results may indicate kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, etcetera.
A lipid profile checks for two types of cholesterol:
- HDL, or “good cholesterol”
- LDL, or “bad cholesterol”
HDL works to remove harmful substances from your blood while LDL causes plaque to develop in your arteries. A lipid profile test requires you to fast for 8 hours prior to the test. Knowing your cholesterol level is important as it indicates your risk of getting heart disease.
Your thyroid is a pair of tiny glands located in your neck. It produces thyroid hormone which is important in regulating bodily functions such as your mood, energy level and metabolism. A thyroid profile includes Thyroid-stimulating hormone(TSH), Thyroxine (T4), and Triiodothyronine (T3). TSH helps regulate the release of thyroid hormones. T4 regulates your body metabolism while T3 regulates your heart rate and body.
A thyroid profile is important to screen for Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism disease. If you have hypothyroidism, you may experience symptoms such as weight gain, lack of energy, depression, fatigue, brittle hair and fingernails, dry skin, constipation and cold intolerance. Hyperthyroidism symptoms, on the other hand, include weight loss, anxiety, hand tremors, palpitations, insomnia and diarrhoea.
Cardiac biomarkers are substances that are released into the bloodstream when the heart is damaged or stressed. They are often used in the context of a heart attack. The commonly tested ones are:
- Creatine Kinase (CK)
- Creatine Kinase-MB (CK-MB)
- Troponin C, I, and T
A simple blood test can easily diagnose many Sexually Transmitted Infections and Diseases. These blood tests are sometimes combined with urine samples or swabs of the infected tissue for a more accurate diagnosis. STIs that can be diagnosed through blood tests include:
However, blood tests can’t always detect these infections right after a person contracts them. For instance, an HIV infection may need to wait at least a month before a blood test can detect the virus. For this reason, you should consult a doctor before going for such a test.
The coagulation panel measures how well your blood clots. Clotting is a crucial process especially when you bleed from an injury. The coagulation tests may vary based on your health and if you have any underlying conditions. This test can be used to diagnose conditions such as:
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Liver conditions
C-reactive protein, or CRP, is a protein made by your liver when there is ongoing inflammation in your body. In other words, a high CRP level indicates that your body is responding to inflammation. Inflammation is a process and your body’s way of protecting your tissues from a variety of causes such as injury, bacterial or viral infection. Other causes that can cause a CRP to raise include:
- Autoimmune diseases, eg Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Physical trauma
CRP also has a correlation with the risk of heart disease. A high level of CRP may indicate a higher risk of Cardiovascular Disease though it isn’t the sole factor used to assess your risk for it.
Too much cholesterol in your blood can cause plaques to build up in the walls of your arteries. As more plaques begin to buildup, your arteries may become blocked, obstructing blood flow and risk developing blood clots. An asymptomatic individual can only detect hypercholesterolemia through routine blood tests. Therefore, everyone over the age of 20 should measure their cholesterol level at least once every 5 years.
If you are feeling weak lately, experiencing heart palpitations, or noticing your skin looking pale, you may have Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is essential in helping our body maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. You’ll want to make sure you have enough of this vitamin in order to stay healthy. So if your body doesn’t make enough Vitamin B12, you will need to get it from supplements.
Fibrinogen tests, on the other hand, determine how well coagulation protein works in your blood. Lack of fibrinogen can potentially cause difficulty in blood clotting, resulting in excessive bleeding. In other words, fibrinogen helps stop bleeding and aids in wound healing by forming clots. There are two kinds of fibrinogen blood tests – the Fibrinogen activity test and the Fibrinogen antigen test.
A urine test or urinalysis uses your urine to find certain illnesses in their stages, including kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes. If you are experiencing symptoms of a kidney or urinary tract problem, you may want to include a urine test in your routine check. Urinalysis usually includes the testing of urine colour, clarity, pH, glucose and ketones, to name a few.
If you are looking for healthcare professionals who can perform full medical checkups including basic health screening and blood testing, contact us and we’ll be right with you. You can also easily book your doctor’s appointment online with QM Care!