A Close Look at Routine Blood Tests for Ideal Patient Health

Blood tests are an essential way to gain a better understanding about one’s health. Since 70 percent of all medical decisions are based on a lab result, understanding which tests to get and when to get them will help you make more informed decisions about your lifestyle and its effect on your health.

The average patient will typically get routine blood work at least once a year, often in accordance with an annual physical. While this is good to establish a baseline or compare to previous years, annual lab tests are the bare minimum. According to healthline.com, there are a few reasons why you would want to do more than that:

  • You’re experiencing unusual, persistent symptoms, including anything from fatigue to abnormal weight gain.
  • You want to optimize your health. Routine blood work can help you understand what tweaks you may need to make in terms of diet and exercise.
  • You want to reduce your risk of disease or complications. Routine blood work can show the warning signs of many diseases before they happen. Many heart, lung, and kidney conditions can be diagnosed through blood work.

As with all things medical related, you should consult your doctor about which tests you should have done more than once a year. Here are some routine blood tests you should consider:

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

This is one of the most common blood tests for patients. The CBC checks the levels of 10 different components of every major cell in your blood: white cells, red cells and platelets. Important metrics to consider are red blood cell count, hemoglobin and hematocrit.

The normal ranges of these components may differ for men and women. Abnormal levels may indicate nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, or infection. After receiving your results, a doctor can order follow-up tests if necessary.

Basic Metabolic Panel*

A basic metabolic panel (BMP) checks for levels of certain compounds in the blood. These include electrolytes, calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, chloride, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and creatinine. 

As with the CBC, and as with other blood tests, abnormal levels may lead to follow up tests or diagnosis. Abnormal results may indicate kidney disease, diabetes, or hormone imbalances.

Complete Metabolic Panel

A complete metabolic panel (CMP) includes all of the aforementioned BMP measures, as well as proteins and substances related to liver function.

Lipid Panel*

A lipid is any various organic compounds that are insoluble in water. This test checks the levels of cholesterol: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) or Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL).

HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol because it removes harmful substances from your blood and assists the liver in breaking down waste. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it causes plaque buildup in your arteries, thus increasing your risk of heart disease. Normal levels vary between men and women and by age.

Thyroid Panel

Your thyroid is a tiny, butterfly shaped organ at the base of your neck. This small, but mighty gland is essentially the motor of your body as it helps regulate bodily functions like mood, energy level, and metabolism. A thyroid panel, or thyroid function test, checks the productivity levels of your thyroid and how it responds to certain hormones.

While normal levels are pretty standard, abnormal levels can indicate low protein levels and thyroid growth disorders among other things.

Enzyme Markers

Enzymes are proteins that help your body perform certain chemical processes, such as the breakdown of food and clotting of blood. Common enzyme tests include: 

  • Creatine phosphokinase (CPK-1): Found in your lungs and brain; high levels indicate brain injuries or cancer.
  • CPK-2 (CK-MB): Found in your heart; often increases in your blood after a heart attack or other cardiac related event.
  • CPK-3: Also found in your heart and result from muscle inflammation, injury or intense exercise.
  • Troponin: Another heart enzyme, but it can leak into your blood as a result of a heart injury.

*Your lifestyle choices greatly influence the results of your blood tests. Everything you eat and drink can cause the levels of vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients in your blood to vary. This is why certain tests require patients to fast before it in order to ensure that the results are as accurate as possible.

While there is a litany of routine blood tests you should consider getting on an annual basis, these can be a good starting point for you to take control of your health.